‘Silent killer’ put 2 WSP troopers in hospital

Carbon monoxide suspected in the fleet of Ford Explorers

WSP Trooper Cashatt was affected by carbon monoxide poisoning (Undated courtesy photo)
WSP Trooper Cashatt was affected by carbon monoxide poisoning (Undated courtesy photo)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — At least 2 Washington State Patrol troopers were hospitalized with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and a handful of troopers said they felt dizzy and nauseous driving Ford Explorers.

The Washington State Patrol has 645 Ford Interceptors and Explorers in its fleet. After the second case of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in February, WSP began installing carbon monoxide detectors in patrol cars.

US auto safety regulators are investigating complaints of exhaust fume problems in more than 1.3 million Explorers from the 2011 through 2017 model years. The Austin, Texas, Police Department pulled nearly 400 SUVs from its fleet recently.

Robin Cashatt, the wife of a WSP trooper affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, August 8, 2017 (KOIN)
Robin Cashatt, the wife of a WSP trooper affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, August 8, 2017 (KOIN)

Robin Cashatt, who is married to one of the WSP troopers who went to the hospital, told KOIN 6 News her husband’s heart was racing and he spent the night under a doctor’s watch.

“My husband was working an 8-to-4 shift” last Valentine’s Day, she told KOIN 6 News. “He called me about 10:30 and he was on his way home, not feeling good.”

But about 10 minutes later he called again and said he could barely see, was shaking profusely and his skin was turning white.

“I’m thinking he’s having a heart attack.”

He was rushed to Skyline Hospital and “by the time I got to the ER they had given him a drug to calm him down because he was shaking so bad.”

Carbon monoxide symptoms

Hours later, his blood work came back and showed his carbon monoxide level was 2.7 — higher than normal for a non-smoker.

In this Tuesday, July 11, 2017, file photo, Austin police Ford utility vehicles are parked on East Eighth Street outside police headquarters in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

WSP Capt. Shane Nelson said Cashatt was one of 2 trooper who were hospitalized.

“We had 6, about one a month, up until July,” Nelson said. “And each one of these cases, the trooper described the same kind of nausea, dizzy, those kind of symptoms.”

The Ford Explorers, Robin Cashatt said, are “their office. This is where they do all their work.”

Cashatt wants Ford to address the problem before something worse happens.

“It’s going to take probably someone dying, and that’s what’s sad,” she said. Carbon monoxide is “called the silent killer. He could’ve died or gotten in an accident, so it’s a scary thing.”

Ford responded to a KOIN 6 News request for comment, saying:

Safety is our top priority. We continue to investigate. We have not found elevated levels of carbon monoxide in non-Police Ford Explorers. To address police customers who drive modified vehicles in unique ways, we are covering the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Utility that may have carbon monoxide concerns, regardless of modifications made after leaving Ford’s factory.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.