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Sudden Acceleration Blamed For Out Of Control Prius In CaliforniaNews sources across the country, including Fox News, the Today Show on NBC and the Los Angeles Times, have reported on a runaway Toyota Prius that was rescued by California Highway Patrol officers after the Prius’s accelerator stuck in what is yet another Toyota sudden unintended acceleration event.

From the Today Show:

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From the Los Angeles Times:

A stuck accelerator takes the Toyota hybrid to 90 mph on Interstate 8 in San Diego County before an officer helps out.

The driver of a Toyota Prius who called 911 on Monday to report his accelerator was stuck finally got the car stopped after about 20 minutes with the help of the California Highway Patrol, officers said.

"He was reaching speeds over 90 miles per hour," CHP Officer Larry Landeros said of the driver, James Sikes.

A Toyota spokesman said Monday evening that the company, which has recalled millions of vehicles because of reports of unintended acceleration, was sending a representative to investigate the cause of the incident.


"I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny . . . it jumped and it just stuck there," Sikes, 61, said at a news conference. "As it was going, I was trying the brakes . . . it wasn’t stopping."

A CHP patrol officer caught up to the Prius about 20 minutes later and used a loudspeaker to tell the driver to apply his emergency brake in tandem with the brake pedal, Landeros said.

Once the Prius’ speed dropped to about 50 mph, Sikes turned off the engine and was able to coast to a stop, the officer said.

Landeros didn’t know why the driver waited until his speed had dropped to turn off the engine, but the officer speculated that Sikes feared losing the car’s power steering.


Sudden unintended acceleration has allegedly been the cause of 56 fatal accidents involving Toyotas in the U.S., going back as far as 2004.

The Prius that Sikes was driving was one of more than 4 million Toyota vehicles recalled in November because of the reported acceleration problems.

The Today Show report indicated that Sikes recently had his Prius examined by his local Toyota dealer as part of Toyota’s sudden acceleration recall. It appears that this is yet another case of Toyota’s recall failing to solve the unintended acceleration problem.

While it is still unclear what caused Sikes’ Prius to accelerate out of control, Toyota continues to deny that its electronics play any role in the sudden acceleration problem.

In fact, Toyota has gone to great lengths to dispute the findings of an electrical engineering professor’s test the recreated Toyota’s sudden acceleration problem by introducing a short circuit in the electronic throttle controls. After Toyota executives that Toyota’s own paid consultants could recreate Professor Gilbert’s test, Toyota is now criticizing the test has gone so far as to have Toyota employees resign positions on an advisory panel at Southern Illinois University where Professor Gilbert teaches.

Toyota went so far as to stage a press conference yesterday with its paid consultants to publicize a study prepared under the direction of Toyota’s litigation defense lawyers. Unfortunately, Toyota has chosen to attack its critics rather than discover what is really causing the sudden acceleration problems.

Throughout the sudden acceleration time line, one thing has been consistent: Toyota has consistently misled the public about the nature and severity of the Toyota sudden acceleration problem. When given the opportunity to come forward with information, Toyota has chosen lie after lie after lie.

The Detroit Free Press has documented how Toyota has stonewalled the investigation of these problems since at least 2003. Now, Toyota has said its own data recorders are not reliable. What are these black boxes saying that has Toyota withholding this evidence?

After dragging its feet and being called "safety deaf" on the sudden acceleration recall, Toyota did it again when Toyota knew of the problems with its Prius brakes long before warning its drivers, customers and innocent motorists.

It is time that Toyota is finally held accountable for putting profits over safety and for putting money ahead of human life.

You can learn more at our safety blog and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.


  1. Gravatar for Happytom,0,4677651.story

    excerpt from fox40 News Sacramento

    While the California Highway Patrol doesn't question his story, bloggers and radio listeners are wondering whether this is another "balloon boy" style hoax, done for the publicity or the money.

    He's been on TV before, and seems to cherish the attention. In 2006 he was on television, winning $55,000 on "The Big Spin." As a real estate agent in San Diego, he boasts of his celebrity clients, including Constance Ramos of "Extreme Home Makeover."

    Questions were first raised after his 911 call became public. The 61-year-old entrepreneur told the dispatcher, "My car can't slow down."

    The operator repeatedly told Sikes to put his Prius into neutral during the more than 20 minute call, but Sikes didn't act on her requests, and didn't try it. He said he was afraid it might slip into reverse.

    With questions about his story, FOX40 News looked into Sikes background. Our report found no evidence of any criminal record, but Sikes definitely had money problems, including a police report for grand theft, a filing for bankruptcy, and a side business that would raise some eyebrows.

    In 2001, Sikes filed a police report with the Merced County Sheriff's Department for $58,000 in stolen property, including jewelry, a prosumer mini-DV camera and gear, and $24,000 in cash.

    A neighbor near Sikes' former home in Atwater mentioned the money problems to FOX40 News, adding, "I'm not surprised [if] he'd try to get money."

    Two years ago, Sikes filed for bankruptcy in San Diego. Documents show he was more than $700,000 in debt and about five months behind in payments on the Toyota Prius at the center of the controversy.

    Sikes still struggles with a reputation in Northern California. Jim Pernetti with AAA California Document Services says he's also aware of Sikes' past.

    "I've been warned that he used to do business here," Pernetti told FOX40, "and that I should be wary of anything with him."

    The Atwater neighbor says Sikes and his wife Patty had a reputation for other reasons.

    "They might've been in the pornography business," neighbors said.

    FOX40 News did uncover a new business that Sikes appears to have started, the website, registered with the California Business Registry's database asAdultSwingLife, LLC. James Sikes is listed as an "agent and member" according to records obtained by FOX40 News, and an online listing with an affiliated adult website lists a personal cell phone number of Sikes' as a point of contact for

  2. Gravatar for Brett Emison


    From your post:

    "... the California Highway Patrol doesn't question his story...."

    "... FOX40 News looked into Sikes background. Our report found no evidence of any criminal record...."

    Tom - are you serious? I don't know anything about James Sikes... but neither do you. You're basing your opinion on rampant speculation.

    Here's the only hard news in the story you quoted: the CHP doesn't think Sikes "faked" it and Sikes doesn't have a criminal record. Everything else is irrelevant mudslinging.

    And Tom, you never answered my questions from a different post (

    What is your real name? Why is your email address registered in Japan ("")? What work do you do for Toyota?

    I publish my name on every post I write. If you are going to publish comments in this forum, don't you think you should be honest with us all as well?

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