A Ford Explorer Police Interceptor carbon monoxide lawsuit alleges two California officers were killed in a crash caused by defects found in the Explorer.
Stanislaus County Deputy Sheriff Jason Garner and civilian Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson were killed responding to a call, but without the lights and siren activated.
According to court records, the crash occurred on May 17, 2017, when officers Garner and Johnson were traveling with Garner behind the wheel. The lawsuit alleges carbon monoxide allegedly entered the passenger compartment and caused Garner to lose consciousness.
The Explorer crossed a yellow line and went off the road, accelerating to about 89 mph when the SUV struck a steel post and other wrecking yard debris. The lawsuit says the Explorer hit a storage bin and caught fire, with both occupants pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy showed Garner’s blood carboxyhemoglobin saturation level was 19 percent and Johnson’s blood carboxyhemoglobin saturation level was 27 percent. According to the lawsuit, both levels are "alarmingly high and toxic" based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The plaintiffs claim the Ford Explorer police vehicle allowed exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide to poison the officers, because of numerous defective areas of the SUV.
Alleged problem areas include:
- Behind the bumper and within the interior and exterior panels
- Defective rear air extractors
- Rear liftgates that used defective drain valves
- Sheet metal panels, overlaps, joints and seams
- Rear auxiliary air conditioning parts that were defectively designed and/or located too close to the driver-side rear air extractor
According to the lawsuit, Ford Motor Company sent multiple technical service bulletins (TSBs) to dealerships concerning exhaust odors in the cabins of Explorers.
TSB 12-12-4 was sent in December 2012 and titled, “Explorer Exhaust Odor in Vehicle,” and tells technicians, “[s]ome 2011-2013 Explorer vehicles may exhibit an exhaust odor in the vehicle with the auxiliary climate control system on. Customers may indicate the odor smells like sulfur.”