Tags: US | Runaway | Prius | California

Authorities: Prius Seen With Flashing Brake Lights

Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010 08:58 PM

A California Highway Patrol report released Wednesday said an officer saw brake lights flashing after arriving to help slow a speeding Toyota Prius on a Southern California freeway.

The account in the report is consistent with details the driver and CHP officer gave reporters shortly after the incident. Toyota, however, has cast doubt on the driver's story.

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

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 1/4 mile of the vehicle and could smell the heated brakes which indicated they had been used extensively," it states, referring to 400 meters.

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

However, it did nothing to clarify the wildly divergent versions of events from Sikes and Toyota Motor Corp.

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 (32 kilometers) 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.

Sikes told Neibert he had tried three times to lift the gas pedal with his hand but was unsuccessful, the report states.

Sikes, 61, was initially reluctant to speak with 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.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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