Police departments in California and around the country are starting to install carbon monoxide detectors in their patrol vehicles, particularly in their Ford Explorer cruisers. According to a report in The Modesto Bee, this is because of numerous incidents around the country where police officers have been injured or killed in car accidents caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Shortly after reports involving police officers, the Modesto Police Department and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department purchased carbon monoxide detectors for all of their Explorers. Other local California police departments such as Ceres and Turlock are following in Modesto’s footsteps.
Investigation Launched into Fatal Accident
An officer in Austin, Texas, was hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning after becoming ill while driving the Explorer during a recent shift. And a Newport Beach police officer crashed his Ford Explorer patrol vehicle into a tree because he suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. Testing for carbon monoxide poisoning is being done as part of an investigation into the deaths of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Garner and Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson.
They were killed in May when an Explorer Garner was driving sped off the road in south Modesto and crashed. The Newport Beach personal injury law firm is representing a number of law enforcement officers as well as civilians in similar cases where carbon monoxide leaks from Explorer vehicles are causing drivers to become sick or crash their vehicles after becoming disoriented or passing out. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause severe symptoms including headache, nausea, loss of consciousness and even death.
Explorer SUV Federal Probe
The Ford Explorer SUV, which is commonly used as a police patrol vehicle, has been under federal investigation for nearly a year over complaints of exhaust fumes entering the vehicle’s cabin. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a probe last July after 154 reports of exhaust entering the cabin of the Explorer for model years 2011-2015. It covers the Police Interceptor Utilities version, a modified Explorer that was specifically made for police use. Ford has issued two Technical Service Bulletins, one in 2012 and another in 2014, but has never issued a recall in connection with this vehicle defect.
It appears that this defect has already claimed two lives if it is determined that the Stanislaus County deputies died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. As auto defect lawyers who represent victims who have been seriously injured by these defective Explorer SUVs, we hope these vehicles are recalled so that they don’t put more lives in danger. It is truly unacceptable for Ford to put profit over the lives of law enforcement officers who strive to protect our communities.