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.
“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.
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.