Auburn officer poisoned by CO from suspected Ford Explorer leak

AUBURN, Mass. — The town of Auburn is taking action after four officers driving Ford Explorers tested positive for carbon monoxide; one even passed out behind the wheel.

The officer was on regular patrol Wednesday when he began losing consciousness just before 11 a.m.

Police said there was another officer behind the 2017 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor when he saw it veer off and hit another vehicle on Oxford Street.

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The officer was examined on scene and they found he had CO in his system.

Last week, Ford Motor Company said it would cover the costs of repairs in every Police Interceptor Explorer SUVs following a federal investigation of possible carbon monoxide leaks linked to crashes and injuries.

Ford believes the issue may be from after-market installation of police equipment, reports Reuters. 

"If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin," Ford said in a statement.

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The Auburn officer’s Ford Explorer with a police interceptor tested positive for high levels of carbon monoxide, prompting a city-wide testing of all Ford Explorers.

Fire Captain Shawn Steele says the officer had 13 parts per million in his car, and some other Explorers rang up numbers as high as 40. A normal reading should be zero. Fire officials say an automotive CO alarm goes off at just three or four parts per million.

“We found 13 in the car, however, that was after he had already exited the vehicle,” said Capt. Steele.

The officer is still at the hospital, but is expected to recover.

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Twelve vehicles have been pulled from service. Not all of the 12 are police interceptors; three are baseline Ford Explorers.

“We don’t have any interceptors. This is what you buy to haul your family around in,” said Capt. Steele.

That’s posing questions for town officials who now are unsure of the scope of the problem.

"Safety is our top priority and we are concerned for those involved. We are investigating, but until we have the facts, it would be inappropriate to comment further," said Elizabeth Wingrandt, the Safety Communications Manager for Ford.

Auburn Police Department has put out an order to all officers to drive with the windows down in the police interceptor models. The department will work with the town manager to come up with a plan.

Because of this incident, Ford engineers are scheduled to meet with town department heads in Auburn Thursday morning to figure out the outcome of these investigations and what they should do moving forward.