Runaway Prius incident investigated - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Runaway Prius incident investigated


WASHINGTON (ABC)--  There are growing questions this morning about the claims from a California man, who says his Toyota Prius zoomed out of control.  Jim Sikes called 911 to say that he was unable to stop at speeds of more than 90 miles an hour.  

But now federal investigators say they've been unable to duplicate the incident.  Toyota is expected to speak up in a press conference on Monday.

A congressional memo obtained by ABC News suggests it was the American public taken for a ride when James Sikes dialed into 911 back on March 8th.

Sikes insists he was unable to stop his Toyota Prius as the car reached 94 miles per hour along a San Diego Highway.  Yet the memo says technicians with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota could not duplicate the sudden, un-intended acceleration the driver claims he experienced.

John Gomez, Attorney for James Sikes, says "There is no reason whatsoever to believe it was a hoax.  And just to be clear, he is not filing a lawsuit -- ever. He's not asking for money -- ever. So there's no reason for him to make it up."

Still, investigators want to know why Sikes didn't put the car in neutral during the 23 minute episode, even though the 911 operator asked him to do so again and again.

Analysts claim it would have slowed the vehicle down.  Sikes has said he feared flipping -- or colliding with other traffic.  The federal tests, according to his attorney, prove nothing.

Gomez says, "This problem is sort of a ghost in the machine that is the Toyota system.  It doesn't leave a fault code, it doesn't leave a footprint and you can't make it happen upon demand."

For their part, the California Highway Patrol is sticking by their original statements; they believe the incident, one week ago, was legit.

Online Reporter: Jill Courtney

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