Five Florida Officers Have Died in Exploding Cop Cars, Said To Be Worse Than Ford Pinto

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It's the most infamous car used by cops and taxi drivers, and even comes with a big red button when driven by Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black -- the Ford Crown Victoria.

But according to a Palm Beach Post investigation, the cars are essentially big bombs that have killed 30 cops nationwide since 1983, including five in Florida.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Patrick Ambroise is one of those who died in a Crown Vic fireball, after being rear-ended by a Lexus on Florida's Turnpike in Hollywood in May 2010.

Here's what New Times' sister paper to the south -- Miami New Times -- said about the incident:

Florida Highway Patrol Patrick Ambroise was parked on the shoulder of the Florida Turnpike, most likely running a radar on traffic, when his patrol car was hit from behind by a Lexus. The collision sparked a fire in the patrol car, and the officer died on the scene. The accident happened around 8:30 on Saturday night.

Nineteen-year-old Jonathan Garcia was driving the car that hit Ambroise. The Lexus did not catch fire, but Garcia was airlifted to Jackson Memorial and remains in the hospital.

Ambroise, a four-year veteran, leaves behind a wife and two little girls, a 5-year-old and a 3-month-old.

"Troopers think it's unsafe; they just don't really have a choice," William Smith, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and president of the FHP chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, tells the Post. "It's 'Here's your car, that's the one you are going to drive.'"

The paper says the car's fuel-system problems have been known to Ford since the '60s, which isn't surprising considering "Safety doesn't sell" champion Lee Iacocca had become the vice president of Ford's car and truck group in 1960.

Of course, once Ford did a safety analysis of the fuel system in 1971, the extra $9.95 it would cost to move the fuel cost above the axle was apparently too much for Ford, and in 1979, Crown Victoria Police Interceptors started coming off the assembly line.

This is the last year Ford is producing the Crown Vic, as they'll head to the Taurus for police work, but the Post says even in the seven largest police precincts in Palm Beach County, 1,714 Crown Victorias are still in use.

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