herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Police back driver over 152kph Prius

POLICE have backed a driver who claimed his Toyota Prius raced at 152kph after the car's accelerator stuck.

Toyota, which has been beset by recall problems, had cast doubt on the motorist's story.

But police who helped the car stop safely near San Diego have reported seeing the brake lights flashing.

The California Highway Patrol report said the officer trailed the Prius at 95mph (152kph) on Interstate 8 east of San Diego, and the car slowed to about 50mph (80kph) before the officer told driver Jim Sikes over a loudspeaker to hit the floor brake and emergency brake simultaneously.



PUMPING

Mr Sikes gradually came to an unassisted stop and was not injured.

The lights were on "for a period of time and would turn off, indicating the driver was possibly pumping the brakes," CHP Officer Todd Neibert wrote in his seven-page incident report.

"I was within a mile of the vehicle and could smell the heated brakes which indicated they had been used extensively," it states.

The report offered some new details and dozens of photos about events that occurred after Mr Sikes called police on March 8 to say his accelerator pedal got stuck on a San Diego freeway.

However, it did nothing to clarify the wildly divergent versions of events from Mr Sikes and Toyota. Neibert also wrote that a Border Patrol agent in an unmarked vehicle with emergency lights flashing was trying to help guide the Toyota to safety. The report didn't say how long the Border Patrol agent had been tracking the Prius in the Chevrolet Tahoe.

"It was staying ahead of us and it was later determined that the agent driving the Chevrolet Tahoe was aware of the situation," Neibert wrote.

The car stopped in mountainous terrain 20 miles (32km) from a steep downgrade and sharp left turn. "If the Prius made it to that location, the ultimate result would have most likely led to a catastrophic ending," the officer wrote.

Mr Sikes told Neibert he had tried three times to lift the accelerator pedal with his hand but was unsuccessful, the report states. Mr Sikes (61) was initially reluctant to speak to reporters, but the officer urged him to go to the station to "put the media at ease," according to the report.

"I advised him the media would most likely seek him out if he did not speak to them voluntarily," Neibert wrote.

hnews@herald.ie

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