(Corrects to reflect that 2008 Prius was part of one of
LOS ANGELES, March 9 The driver of a 2008
Toyota Prius said his car uncontrollably accelerated to over 90
miles per hour on a San Diego County freeway before a
California Highway Patrol officer helped him stop the car,
The driver, 61-year-old James Sikes, was not injured in the
Monday incident, which is another claim of unintended
acceleration that has caused the greatest image crisis for
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) (TM.N) in its history.
The incident occurred in the same county where an off-duty
California Highway Patrol 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
Sikes said he had received a recall notice to take his car
into a Toyota dealership, but when he did, he was told that his
car was not on recall lists, the San Diego Union-Tribune
reported. The automaker recalled the 2004-2009 Prius hybrids
due to concerns that loose floor mats may entrap accelerator
pedals, causing unintended acceleration.
On Monday afternoon, Sikes overtook another car on
Interstate 8 near San Diego, and then the Prius accelerated
beyond his control, the highway patrol said.
For the next 20 minutes, Sikes sped 30 miles along the
freeway, he said.
"I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something
kind of funny," Sikes said at a Monday press conference. "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
Once the car slowed to around 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 that it had dispatched a
technical specialist to investigate the report and offer
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
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall and Soyoung Kim; Editing by Lisa