AUSTIN (KXAN) — A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help pay for the medical expenses of an Austin police officer who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from his Ford patrol vehicle in 2018.
Patrol Officer Ryan Hancock and Sgt. Zach LaHood both suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in 2017. LaHood was on medical leave for more than a year and a half before he returned to limited duty, doing desk work in November 2018.
Hancock says he got carbon monoxide poisoning the day he went back to work from parental leave. He had a newborn son who was just a month old at the time. His wife said he came home from his first day back at work extremely sick — not knowing why. She says she urged him not to go to work the next day, but he pushed himself to show up.
“When he got to work, his other officers could tell that he was not feeling well, and then when he saw his car had been pulled, they kind of all put two and two together and asked him to go to an EMS outpost, and that’s what he did,” she recalled. “And that’s where they drew his blood and saw that he had carbon monoxide and started giving him oxygen there, and transported him to a hospital.”
Hancock says following that day, he made more than 10 trips to the emergency room, was in the ICU for a while and checked into a rehab facility. However, he says the worst part of it all was missing out on raising his newborn.
A GoFundMe campaign was recently created to help Hancock with his accumulating medical expenses and to help relieve the family’s stress. Additionally, the information on the fundraiser’s page says Hancock was forced to medically retire on April 17, 2020.
The GoFundMe was created April 23, and has a goal of $15,000. So far it has raised a little over $1,600.
Both Hancock and LaHood have sued Ford over the carbon monoxide poisoning. The lawsuit was filed in July 2017, and in January the attorney on the case, Brian Chase, updated KXAN on its status, saying “There have been major developments in the case with regard to how and why this defect came to be and it is a classic profit over safety story. Our nations [sic] police force has been unnecessarily placed at serious risk to carbon monoxide poisoning due to Ford’s greed.”
Chase said he couldn’t comment more specifically on the case because there is a protective order in place.
Ford responded to KXAN’s request for comment Jan. 21, saying it does not comment on pending litigation. It added, “Safety is one of our top priorities. Ford has investigated and determined that 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 or caused by extreme damage.”