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Deputy sheriff jumps from burning cruiser at 50 mph. Jackson County, Georgia sheriff stops use of propane while fire is investigated.

On Monday morning a Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Gary Cox received only minor injuries after he was forced to jump from his moving cruiser while he was responding to a robbery call. Sheriff Stan Evans said the propane-powered vehicle caught fire as Cox attempted to light a cigarette. Here’s more in excerpts from an article by Justin Gray at WAGA-TV:

“He was traveling down the road like you or I but evidently there was propane inside the passenger compartment,” said Sheriff Evans.

The sheriff says that propane caught fire so fast, Deputy Cox jumped out of the car at 50 miles an hour.

“He exited the vehicle while the vehicle was still moving, saved his life I’m sure,” said Evans.

The explosion happened in front of Gary Blakley’s home.

“When I saw that car I didn’t know what to think. It [sort of] scared me. I said whoever is driving that car evidently got killed,” said Blakley.

More from Joe Johnson at

Officials have launched an investigation to determine if the fire was caused by a propane leak, according to Maj. David Cochran, chief deputy at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office has suspended the use of propane to power its fleet of patrol cars, Cochran said.

“We don’t know if there was a leak of some kind,” Cochran said. “We have suspended propane usage until engineers from the company that sold us the (propane) conversion kits can inspect the car and find out what happened,” he said.

Cox was taken to Athens Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for first-degree burns to his face and arms, then released.

When converting a police car, contractors install a bullet-resistant propane tank in the trunk, then connect it to a component that uses heat from the car’s engine to vaporize the liquid propane and inject the gaseous fuel into the engine cylinders.

The cars can run on either propane or gasoline, at the flick of a switch.


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  • Joe Herndin

    How about also banning smoking in cruisers?

  • Justin

    Maybe he should not be “lighting a cigarette” in the propane powered vehicle.

  • Stephen

    While, lighting a cigarette is bad while doing anything… Even if the cigarette did cause the propane to light, if he hadn’t lit a cigarette wouldn’t the leak eventually become a problem on it’s own?

  • Rake

    What gets me is that he was responding to a call. How exactly do you do that? You’re responding lights and sirens at 50mph, monitoring the radio, and you’re lighting a cigarette? How many arms does this guy have?

  • Anonymous

    Not many things any more unprofessional looking than a police officer or firefighter / medic with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth while on duty.

  • Anon

    Absolutely Stephen, the real issue here is if the conversion kits from this unnamed company were designed, manufactured and installed in accordance with NHTSA Standards.

    And if they were, are those standards good enough?

  • http://mts Rand

    The most recent codes require all valves and fittings to be enclosed in a special box called a vapour box. A vapour box vents outside a vehicle ensuring if a minor leak evereoccurs that the fumes do not enter the vehicle. The valves, fittings and fuel hoses in this unit appear to be open to the trunk, as shown in the film, when it pans across the tank (which is intact by the way). This would be contrary to the US NPGA 58 code. The installers of this system need to be asked about this. It is impossible to ensure a valve fitting or hose will not leak during the life of a conversion no more then the auto industry can guarantee a gasoline system will never leak. As for smoking, not good, however other electrical devices under the dash might have ignited the mixture at some time. On a properly installed system an accident like this should not happen.

  • oldhead

    Hopefully they’ll switch the scout cars back to gasoline since it’s much safer than propane. It’s safer to smoke around gasoline than propane anyways, and nuthin’ says cool like a cop or a Fireman with a smoke hangin’ out of his yap while he’s rollin’ up and down the boulevard.

  • mark

    Even safer than gasoline are horses. Just try to light one of them on fire.

  • Engine8Boss

    “I guess he was in hot pursuit!”

  • The Pole

    lol, true hope your not on a call to help me taking time to light up. Still glad no 1 was seriously hurt.