James Sikes, the driver of a 2008 Toyota Prius, said his car uncontrollably accelerated to more than 90 mph March 8 on a San Diego County freeway before a California Highway Patrol officer helped him safely stop the car.Sikes, 61, was not injured in the incident that further added to claims of unintended acceleration that has caused the greatest image crisis in Toyota Motor Corporation history.
The incident occurred in the same county where an off-duty CHP trooper and three family members were killed last August in an incident that brought the issue to national attention and led to the first major recall over unintended acceleration.
Sikes said he had received a recall notice to take his car into a Toyota dealership, but upon arrival he was told his car was not on recall lists, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The automaker has not recalled the 2008 Prius.
During his incident, Sikes overtook another car on Interstate 8 near San Diego, and then the Prius accelerated beyond his control, according to his report filed to the California Highway Patrol. Sikes said he sped 30 miles along the freeway
“I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny,” Sikes said. “It jumped and it just stuck there. As it was going, I was trying the brakes . . . It wasn’t stopping.”
Sikes called the local 911 emergency service, and the highway patrol dispatched Todd Niebert. The trooper pulled alongside the Prius and used his cruiser’s loudspeaker to tell Sikes use the emergency and regular brakes and to turn off the car’s engine.
Once the car slowed to approximately 50 mph, Sikes turned off the car’s engine and it rolled to a stop with the trooper’s car in front of it. The two cars did not touch, police said.
Toyota said in a statement it had dispatched a technical specialist to investigate the report and offer assistance.
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for mechanical problems that can cause the accelerator to stick and for the risk that floor mats could trap an accelerator.
Unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles has been linked to at least five U.S. crash deaths since 2007. Authorities are investigating 47 other crash deaths over the past decade.