New York senator wants Crown Victoria probe

| 6/2/2003

The recent death of a Missouri state trooper in a fiery crash has prompted Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, to ask federal authorities to reopen their investigation into Ford Motor Co.'s Crown Victoria, the most popular model police car.

In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Schumer urged the agency to look into the issue of deadly gas tank explosions on the Crown Victoria.

“We know that there's a problem, and now we need to figure out what we need to do to solve it,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “If that means changing cars so that a different model is used, so be it. Time is of the essence.”

Police unions and some political leaders have complained about the safety record of the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. About 350,000 of the vehicles are on the nation's roads as patrol cars for approximately 80 percent of police departments.

Since 1983, 14 officers have died in crashes when their Crown Victorias’ gas tanks caught fire after being hit from behind.

In Missouri last week, a 25-year-old trooper died in a wreck while pulled over on Interstate 70. Last December, New York state trooper Robert Ambrose was killed on a Yonkers highway when his patrol car was struck from behind. Ambrose's family is suing Ford.

The automaker has denied the cars are dangerous, but initiated a program of retrofitting older models with plastic shields designed to better protect the gas tanks.