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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The number of complaints and injuries related to possible carbon monoxide leaks in Ford Explorers is much higher than previously thought, according to the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Now officials in one city are pulling the SUV’s off the street.
Miami Beach Police issued a statement on the matter saying, “We have been made aware of concerns regarding Ford vehicles in the state of Texas. Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the health and well being of our employees, all city owned Ford SUV’s will soon have carbon monoxide detectors installed.”
It’s also been an issue around the U.s. A 2016 Henderson, Louisiana police Explorer was badly damaged in a crash after officers say its driver passed out from carbon monoxide exposure in April.
“When she was treated at the hospital, we had requested testing for carbon monoxide…and her levels came out near lethal,” said Henderson Police Capt. James Thibodeaux.
On Thursday, that officer filed a lawsuit against Ford. Many more owners of Explorers model years 2011 through 2017 are reporting that carbon monoxide appears to be seeping into their vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now says more than 2,700 complaints have been lodged against the automaker. About 41 people have reported injuries like Newport Beach, California, Officer Brian McDowell who crashed into a tree in 2015 after passing out behind the wheel. Sergeant Zachary Lahood in Austin, Texas was calling for help as his dash cam was rolling. Lahood is one of 20 Austin Police Officers treated for carbon monoxide exposure.
Officials say they’re removing all of the city’s more than 400 Explorers from service.
It’s not just police vehicles. The bulk of the complaints come from regular Ford owners like Stacie Jones. She traded her 2014 Ford Explorer in for a 2017. She says the problem didn’t go away.
“It’s frustrating because at this point, I don’t know what I am going to do,” said Jones.
The NHTSA contends it doesn’t have any proof the injuries reported were caused by carbon monoxide, though investigators say levels of that gas may be elevated during certain driving scenarios.
Ford says safety is its top priority and has a team working with police and regulators to investigate reported issues and solve them.
A count from 2016 shows that nearly half of law enforcement vehicles were Ford Explorers.The SUVs makes up about 60 percent of the Austin police department’s fleet. The chief says officers will have to double up in the other 40 percent of police vehicles.