Second officer joining lawsuit against Ford over carbon monoxide poisoning

FILE - Austin Police Department vehicle (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Austin Police Department vehicle (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A second Austin police officer is joining a lawsuit against Ford after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning.

Since March, more than 20 officers have been treated and released in carbon monoxide incidents in their Ford Explorer SUV units.

Attorney Brian Chase says Officer Ryan Hancock became sick on Friday, July 21. After going home and not feeling any better, he was taken to the hospital.

That’s when he says they found elevated levels of carbon monoxide in his system. Chase says the officer’s symptoms aren’t improving.

The attorney is also representing Officer Zachary LaHood, who almost lost consciousness and nearly crashed into an oncoming bus before pulling his unit into a parking lot and calling for help in March.

LaHood was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. “Essentially, I died from the inside out that night. I just suffocated from the inside out,” he told KXAN’s Brittany Glas.

The city of Austin confirms Ford and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration have decided to extend their visit to Austin to look over APD’s fleet of Ford Explorers. Chase says he reached out to the NHTSA, asking to be present during the testing and investigations, but got no response.

Ford is still pointing the blame at modifications made to the police vehicles. Paperwork adding Hancock to the lawsuit won’t be filed for about another week.

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