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Ford Explorers blamed for alleged carbon monoxide leaks that sickened cops

Officers exposed to carbon monoxide
Suspected gas leaks may not be limited to police vehicles 02:06

WASHINGTON -- Newly-released dashcam video from March appears to show Sgt. Zachary LaHood sickened by what his department says was carbon monoxide seeping into his Ford Explorer police cruiser.

"I almost hit the road twice and feel like I'm gonna get sick," LaHood can be heard saying in the video.

"And I remember swerving to what I thought was a bus, I was going to go head-in to a bus or a, maybe it was a garbage truck, I think it was a bus," he said in an interview.

Sgt. Zachary LaHood CBS News

LaHood, a 13-year police veteran, remains on medical leave and is now suing Ford.

"I'm lucky to be alive, I believe that. And I'm lucky I didn't kill someone else or their family that night," he said.

In the last week alone, six more Austin officers have been treated for carbon monoxide exposure. The department has now taken about 37 Ford Explorers out of service.

"We believe it is something that we do need to take immediate action," Assistant Police Chief Troy Gray said.

In February, CBS News identified more than 450 complaints involving 2011 to 2017 model year Ford Explorers, not just police units. Federal regulators acknowledge that number has grown and are investigating. 

Drivers fear Ford Explorer leaks exhaust fumes 04:18

Ford has known about it since at least 2012. A company representative later acknowledged in a deposition that it appears to be a "design issue" that may allow exhaust, which contains carbon monoxide, to seep in, likely through unsealed seams in the rear of the SUV.

Video shows the Newport Beach, California, police cruiser Brian McDowell was driving slamming into a tree. McDowell is one of at least a half-dozen officers in California, Texas and Louisiana suing Ford over allegations of carbon monoxide exposure.

In a statement to CBS News, Ford said: "We have investigated and not found any carbon monoxide issue resulting from the design of our Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles. We know police modify these vehicles, which can contribute to exhaust-related issues. We have provided instructions to help seal these modifications and are ready to inspect any vehicles with this concern."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is contact with the Austin police department and is "actively investigating" to determine if the issue is related to a potential safety defect.   

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