Deputy Daniel Rivera of Broward County Sheriff's Department continues to cling to life after veering off the road in his patrol car, a vehicle that is now the subject of a safety investigation.
The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is being closely looked at by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for an issue involving its steering components.
A preliminary report shows that in a handful of cases, corrosion has caused the lower shaft of the steering column to become dislodged, or separate altogether, from the upper portion.
"The result is the officers lose steering and lose control of the vehicle," said Rick Ellsley, a civil attorney with Ellsley Sobol Law Firm in Plantation.
Ellsley represents the family of Rivera ,who’s clinging to life following the horrific wreck in his patrol car on Interstate 95 last week.
The cause of the crash is still unclear. Investigators can't say yet why Rivera veered off the road and slammed broadside into tree.
On August 29, Ford issued a voluntary recall of 355,000 Crown Victorias, and similar models, including the Police Interceptor, that were sold or registered in 22 states, after more than a dozen reports of steering problems related to corrosion.
At this point, none of those sold or registered in Florida are on the voluntary recall list, but experts in product liability cases say that could change.
"When more incidents get reported and more investigation is done, sometimes there's an expansion to other states, so we wouldn't be surprised if in the coming weeks or months this investigation is expanded," Ellsley said.
A spokeswoman for the Broward Sheriff’s Office told Local 10 that none of the more than 700 vehicles in the agency’s fleet are affected by Ford's recall.
There's also nothing to indicate that patrol cars from any other agency currently on the streets of South Florida have faulty steering components.
Ellsley said Rivera's relatives are grateful for the support that BSO has shown his family. At the moment, they're more concerned with the results of the crash than what caused it.
"We can't say anything definitively," Ellsley said. "All we can say is this information is out there, it's public. We're glad that they're looking into this and we're very happy that the Broward Sheriff's Office recognizes this.”
The Sheriff's Foundation of Broward County has created the Daniel Rivera fund to help offset travel expenses for the deputy's relatives who've flown to South Florida to be by his side.
Donations can be made online at the Sheriff's Foundation of Broward County.