The Ford Crown Victoria, the vehicle most widely used by law enforcement agencies across the United States, is the subject of a nationwide recall.
"The result is the officers lose steering and lose control of the vehicle," said civil attorney Rick Ellsley.
Ellsley represents the family of Broward Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Rivera, who died after crashing his patrol car in September. Investigators haven't determined why he veered off the road.
On August 29, two weeks before the crash, Ford issued a voluntary recall of more than 350,000 Crown Victorias and similar models sold and registered in 22 northern and mid-Atlantic states where crews use salt to clear ice and snow from the roads.
Corrosion caused by the salt can dislodge or separate the lower shaft of the steering column from the upper portion. Vehicles in Florida weren't included in the recall despite year-round exposure to a salty environment.
"When this issue was brought to our attention, we put the VIN numbers of all our Crown Victorias through Ford's Oasis system and none of our vehicles were in the system for recall or a campaign," said BSO Capt. Jonathan Appel, who oversees the department's patrol fleet, of which 960 are Crown Victorias.
BSO ordered the inspection of Crown Victorias following a Local 10 report in September. Inspectors found that in 26 cars, the steering column had begun to separate.
"Those 26 vehicles were sent to Ford and the steering column components were replaced," said Appel.
In October, Ford widened its voluntary recall to include all vehicles not included in its initial recall regardless of the state. The auto company says no accidents or injuries have been connected to the corrosive problem.
Read: Ford recall notice
Rivera's Crown Victoria is still being inspected. According to Ellsley, the deputy's family is looking into a possible claim against Ford Motor Company.
"We can't say anything definitively. All we can say is this information is out there, it's public, [and] we're glad that they're looking into this," said Ellsley.
Ford is notifying owners about the voluntary recall and offering to inspect the vehicles' steering components and make necessary repairs free of charge.
Last week, Local 10 contacted the Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade, Miami, and Hollywood Police Departments and asked if they were aware of the recall.
- Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman DeAnna Greenlaw said the department has inspected 38 of 297 recalled Crown Victorias in its fleet and 34 of the cars required repairs.
- Miami-Dade police spokesman Javier Baez said the department was aware of the recall but that he didn't know if any vehicles had been inspected.
- Miami police spokesman Kenia Reyes said fleet managers hadn't provided her with a response on Monday.
- Hollywood police spokesman Osvaldo Perez didn't respond to a request for information.