VUPD Officers Sickened By Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 20:50:06-04

The Vanderbilt University Police Department has removed all of their Ford Explorer vehicles from the road after a number of officers reportedly got carbon monoxide poisoning due to a reported leak inside the SUV's cabin.

VUPD purchased four of the 2017 Ford Explorer civilian models for administrators to drive. NewsChannel 5 has learned Vice Chancellor August Washington became light headed recently while driving his Explorer. Tests conducted by the university confirmed 23 different toxin compounds were found in the cabin of the vehicle consistent with carbon monoxide.

In an internal email obtained by NewsChannel 5 and confirmed by CBS News, Vanderbilt University Officials told officers that Ford offered to fix the problem by installing charcoal filters in the vehicles. The email went on to say that VUPD did not see that as an acceptable solution and decided as a result to terminate the leases of all four SUV's.

This alarming revelation came on the heels of an Austin, Texas police officer filing suit against Ford after he passed out behind the wheel of his Ford Explorer Interceptor model from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning. The issue is likely being caused by unsealed seams in the back of the vehicle near the exhaust system where air intake filters are located.

The Explorer has been considered a work horse vehicle for a number of major police departments in Middle Tennessee. The Robertson County Sherrif's Office told NewsChannel 5 they have now installed carbon monoxide detectors in all 43 of their Ford Explorers, after becoming aware of the issue with Vanderbilt University Police.

The odorless, tasteless gas can cause officers to become light headed or even pass out when exposed to it.

CBS News has found at least 771 complaints submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration surrounding similar issues with the Explorer.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to Ford for comment, but at the time this story was published, we had not received a statement from the company.