In July of 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a probe into an estimated 1.33 million Ford Explorer SUVs due to concerns of both exhaust odors and exposure to carbon monoxide seeping into vehicle compartments and the possibility that the defect has caused several crashes, some of them fatal. According to reports, the federal agency received more than 2,700 complaints about models that were manufactured by Ford Motor Company between 2011- 2017.
The Modesto Bee reports that the families of two Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department employees that died in a fatal crash in 2017 have filed suit against Ford Motor Company alleging that the defect caused a fatal amount of carbon monoxide to enter the cabin of their Ford Explorer, causing them to crash while traveling at a high rate of speed.
Deputy Jason Garner was driving his law enforcement vehicle at full throttle, going an estimated 89 miles per hour when he lost consciousness and crashed into a wrecking yard located on Crows Landing Road. The sheriff’s cruiser crashed into a dumpster holding two transmissions. The vehicle then caught fire with both Garner and his coworker, Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson trapped inside. California Highway Patrol (CHP) forensic investigation revealed that both victims died of blunt force trauma.
The families of Garner and Johnson filed their lawsuit in a Stanislaus Superior Court. The suit alleges that the 2014 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor SUV’s issued by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department to its officers had the potentially lethal flaws of allowing exhaust and carbon monoxide to filter into the interior cabin and were known by Ford Motor Company, and the defect ultimately caused the deadly crash.
Legal counsel representing the surviving family members for both officers, attorney Paul Matiasic, said in his opening statement to the court that Ford put profit over public safety. Our first responders encounter countless dangers in their selfless efforts to protect and serve the community, yet Ford nonetheless subjected them to a lethal threat they could neither see nor hear’.