Questions Raised About Driver's Account of 'Runaway Toyota' Incident

On Thursday, the inspection resumed. After replacing the brake pads and rotors, technicians test drove the vehicle. They also test drove an identical Prius.

Sikes had said that when his accelerator seemed to stick, he had tried to pull up on the pedal unsuccessfully. A representative of Toyota said that when both the gas pedal and the brake are pushed to the floor, either the car will shut off or the engine will seize up.

A technician drove the Sikes car for two hours, trying to recreate his experience without success. During the test drive, when the technicians pushed both the gas pedal and the brakes to the floor, the car shut off. This was true in both Sikes' car and in the identical Prius.

"It does not appear to be feasibly possible, both electronically and mechanically," said David Justo of Toyota Motor Sales, who was present for the test, "that his gas pedal was stuck to the floor and he was slamming on the brake at the same time."

"Decisions regarding the safety of America's drivers must ultimately be driven by fact and candor," said Kurt Bardella. "Once NHTSA and Toyota release a detailed conclusion based on their inspection, we will hopefully reach a fact-based resolution that will provide some peace-of-mind.

John Gomez, Sikes' attorney, said he didn't think the tests had proven anything.

"I don't think it's surprising that neither the NHTSA investigators nor anyone from Toyota was able to replicate the event," Gomez said. "They've been unable to replicate any sudden unintended acceleration event ever."

"There clearly is a ghost in the machine of these Toyota systems," Sikes said. "And the problem is, they don't leave a trace, much like a ghost."

Gomez said that what the investigators and technicians did with the brake and accelerator pedals during their test drive did not match what Sikes did. He said that during most of the incident Sikes pumped the brakes intermittently because he was afraid to burn them out.

"It was only at the end that he actually stood on the brakes," said Gomez.

Gomez said that his client had been "devastated" by discussion of his personal life in media coverage of the incident, including stories that have discussed his finances, and suggestions that he staged the event in order to sue.

"If the guy would have been an opportunist, he would have been on Jerry Springer and asking me if we can sue Toyota," Gomez said. "He's done none of those things."

Gomez also said reports that Sikes was behind on his car payments were incorrect.

Sikes said that his 2008 Toyota Prius accelerated uncontrollably on a California interstate last week, reaching 94 MPH before he was able to bring it under control with the help of the California Highway Patrol.

According to Sikes, during the Monday, March 8, incident, he held on to his steering wheel and tried to pull the accelerator pedal back with his right hand.

"I thought it was maybe stuck," he said. "Somehow the pedal was stuck. But it wasn't stuck on anything that was visible."

Sikes said that he also checked his floor mat during the incident, and the mat was "perfect."

Sikes attempted to bring the car under control himself, and then called 911 when he hit speeds over 90 miles per hour. Sikes said his vehicle reached 94 MPH.

After Sikes brought the car under control, California Highway Patrol officer Todd Neibert pulled his patrol car in front of Sikes on the shoulder of the interstate in case the vehicle began accelerating again.

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