EL CAJON, Calif. – The government sent investigators Tuesday to examine a Prius that sped out of control on a California freeway, and Toyota said it wanted to interview the driver as the besieged automaker dealt with a high-profile new headache that raised questions about the safety of its beloved hybrid.
James Sikes, 61, was identified in a 2006 newspaper story as a real estate executive and longtime lottery player who won $55,000 and was selected to appear on a California Lottery TV game show.
He appeared at a news conference quickly after the freeway incident Monday and also spoke to reporters Tuesday at his Toyota dealership, where his car was towed.
He said he called 911 about 1:30 p.m. Monday after accelerating to pass another car on Interstate 8 near La Posta.
“I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny. … It jumped and it just stuck there,” he said.
A patrol car pulled alongside the Prius and the officer told Sikes over a loudspeaker to push the brake pedal to the floor and apply the emergency brake.
The braking, coupled with a steep incline on the freeway, slowed the car to about 50 mph. Sikes said he then shut off the engine and the car coasted to a stop. CHP Officer Todd Neibert then moved his car in front of the Prius to block it.
Something smells fishy as hell to me.
Wouldn’t turning the key off be the FIRST thing to do? That’s what my dad taught me, anyway, back about in 1971, when certain Chevys, including my ’65 Impala, had an sudden acceleration problem caused by broken motor mounts. Doesn’t ANYone have any fvcking common sense? Shut the fvcking key off, for Christ’s sake!!!
And if ANYone HAD come up with the presence of mind to turn the key off, and the car still kept on accelerating, then wouldn’t it now be 100 percent clear that this is NOT a floor mat problem, but an electronic problem?
But I guess that’s a moot question, because evidently, the idea of turning the key off is a new one, and maybe not fully accepted, yet? Even the brave save-the-day cop with the loudspeaker in this story only counseled braking, and only when the car had slowed to about 50 could the driver shut the key off.
Damned lucky that cop showed up to help.