In September 2007, a 49-year old police officer began pursuing a speeding motorist when his Ford Crown Victoria began hydroplaning out of control. It spun around and the rear of the vehicle struck a pole. As several passersby were trying to help him out of the car, it burst into flames. The police officer burned to death. The deadly car accident prompted the police department in Euclid to install fire suppression equipment in the rest of their Crown Victoria patrol cars. This incident came almost exactly a year after two Ohio Highway Patrol officers and a woman following in a pickup truck were burned in a crash involving a police Crown Victoria in southern Ohio.
Now the 2007 victim’s widow has filed a lawsuit alleging the fire was due in part to the defective and dangerous design of the Crown Victoria. In this car, the fuel tank is located so far in the rear of the vehicle that it is prone to puncture during even low-speed crashes. Dozens of police officers have been burned alive in fires in these vehicles. According to an advocacy group, the fuel tank is located within the vehicle’s crumple zone, which is designed to crush during collisions, ostensible to protect passengers from jarring injury, but if the fuel tank punctures, fires become very likely. In addition to the fire suppression system, Crown Victorias have been retrofitted with fuel tank shields, but these have so far not stopped the dangerous fires. Ford has stopped selling the Crown Victoria to the general public, but millions remain in service.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a car accident partly caused by a defective vehicle, the hazardous product lawyers at Columbus, Ohio law firm of Robert W. Kerpsack, L.P.A. can help. Please contact us today for a free initial consultation.