Police pull Fords over carbon monoxide fears - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Police pull Fords over carbon monoxide fears

Fears of carbon monoxide poisoning have prompted several police departments to stop driving Ford Explorers. (Source: SpectrumNews/CNN) Fears of carbon monoxide poisoning have prompted several police departments to stop driving Ford Explorers. (Source: SpectrumNews/CNN)

(SpectrumNews/CNN) - Several police departments have stopped driving Ford Explorers over carbon monoxide concerns.

The police dash cam with this story captures the seconds before a Newport Beach, CA, officer lost consciousness behind the wheel.

He drifts into another lane, over a grassy median, and crashes into a tree line. The SUV narrowly misses an oncoming vehicle.

The officer behind the wheel is suing Ford, the maker of his patrol vehicle, blaming his blackout on carbon monoxide poisoning.

A similar case is making its way through a Texas court. Documents show Austin Police Sgt.  Zachary LaHood was on patrol in march when he "became nauseous, light-headed, and began experiencing cognitive difficulties."

Before pulling into this parking lot, LaHood nearly collided with an oncoming bus. His medical diagnosis, according to the lawsuit: "carbon monoxide poisoning."

The National Transportation Safety Administration has investigated more than 150 complaints from Ford Explorer owners about the smell of exhaust fumes in their SUV's.

Ford has settled a class action lawsuit related to those complaints. After LaHood's incident, Austin PD pulled 37 of their police interceptor out of service.

The police association president there is calling on the city to find a long-term solution.

Ken Casaday, APD Assoc. President: "Our big fear now is that we have officers in the city driving around everyday being poisoned and they don't even know about it," said Ken Casaday, APD Association president.

Ford Motor Company says the maker has not found any carbon monoxide issue resulting from the design of its Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles. 

"We know police modify these vehicles, which can contribute to exhaust-related issues," Ford said. "We have provided instructions to help seal these modifications and are ready to inspect any vehicles with this concern."

Those instructions were sent to Austin PD. They identify openings on some 2013 police interceptors that could allow external air into the SUV. The maintenance bulletins date back to 2012, says Brian Chase attorney for three officers suing Ford.

"Most of the police fleets and people I talk to are putting carbon monoxide detectors in the vehicles so they can catch it ahead of time," Chase said. "It would have been nice if they had a warning about this sooner."

Copyright 2017 Spectrum News Austin via CNN. All rights reserved.

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