OLYMPIA, Wash. - It’s known as the silent killer, and new reports show multiple Washington State Patrol troopers believe they were exposed to carbon monoxide inside their vehicles, and the exposure left lasting effects.
Four troopers have filed torts against the State Patrol. The legal action follows cases across the country of carbon monoxide leaking inside Ford police vehicles.
"I remember thinking that I was going to die” said Washington State Patrol Trooper Randall Cashatt.
It's clear the memories haunt him.
The 20-year State Patrol veteran is suing the state of Washington. He said his 2014 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor made him deathly ill.
"The money is not an issue. I don't -- it's furthest thing from my mind. I don't -- I stood up and am standing up because I don't want this to happen to anybody else,” said Cashatt.
According to a report from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, "The WSP fleet section knew about the potential exhaust problem, but had not notified any WSP vehicle custodian,” and a Ford Motor Co. service manager "could not guarantee that the vehicle would not kill the employee."
The report also said an inspection confirmed the allegations.
In a statement, Ford Motor Co. said, "Carbon monoxide concerns in Police Interceptor Utilities are related to unsealed holes from the installation of police equipment by third parties after the vehicle was purchased."
In 2017, State Patrol communications director Kyle Moore told KIRO 7 that six troopers showed symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure.
“We don't have enough vehicles to pull all of them off the street at the same time. That would mean we'd have coverage gaps. We wouldn't have troopers out on the road and we don't want to have the public not be safe,” he said.
State Patrol installed carbon monoxide detectors to the fleet. After that, reports show, more than 50 alarms, including Cashatt's, went off.
In a statement Tuesday, the State Patrol said the following:
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“The agency’s number one priority is trooper safety; and it’s deeply upsetting that any trooper has experienced a negative impact because of carbon monoxide exposure from inside their patrol vehicles. Washington State Patrol (WSP) Chief John R. Batiste and his executive team take this matter very seriously and have made proactive strides in protecting troopers from possible exposure. All Ford Explorers have been inspected and outfitted with carbon monoxide detectors; additionally, troopers have undergone formal training on the detectors and provided resources about exposure risks. Because of the safety measures taken to protect troopers from carbon monoxide risk, the WSP is appealing the recent report from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. However, the appeal does not in any way negate from the negative experiences troopers have had. The WSP is looking into what more we can do to keep our troopers safe.”
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