AUBURN, Mass. (WHDH/AP) — Police in Auburn said three officers were sickened after exposure to carbon monoxide, including an officer who passed out behind the wheel of his cruiser and crashed.
Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis said the officer rear-ended another vehicle, causing “minimal” damage. The officer suffered minor injuries.
Both the cruiser and officer had tested positive for carbon monoxide. He was taken to a local hospital with high levels of the gas in his system but Sluckis said the officer’s levels were not near a “deadly level.”
“He was going up the hill and he began to decelerate. As he did, for some reason, he accelerated, made contact with the vehicle in front of him, cut to the left and his vehicle went across the roadway into a parking lot,” said Sluckis said.
Sluckis said the two other officers also tested positive for carbon monoxide and were hospitalized. He said the vehicles involved are Ford Explorer SUVs and the department took 10 out of service after having the fire department test their entire fleet.
Ford released the following to statement to 7News on Wednesday:
“It’s premature to draw conclusions from what happened today in Auburn after reports of carbon monoxide at levels of 13 parts per million in the vehicle. According to the Massachusetts Environmental Affairs, ‘most people do not begin to feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning until they have been exposed to levels of at least 200 parts per million for several hours or more.’ Given this discrepancy, more investigating is required.”
“Safety is our top priority and we are concerned for those involved. We are working with the Auburn Police Department and have a team in Massachusetts on the way to inspect their vehicles and modifications made to them.”
The National Highway Safety Administration said it is investigating more than 1 million police Ford Explorers made between 2011 and 2017. Similar complaints about police officers suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning have been made at departments across the country.
Carbon monoxide detectors have been ordered for the Auburn Police Department’s vehicles. The Boston Police Department has also ordered detectors for its fleet.
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