Skip to comments.Man at Wheel of 'Out-of-Control' Prius Has Troubled Financial Past
Posted on 03/12/2010 9:14:38 AM PST by Chet 99
The man who became the face of the Toyota gas pedal scandal this week has a troubled financial past that is leading some to question whether he was wholly truthful in his story.
On Monday, James Sikes called 911 to report that he was behind the wheel of an out-of-control Toyota Prius going 94 mph on a freeway near San Diego. Twenty-three minutes later, a California Highway Patrol officer helped guide him to a stop, a rescue that was captured on videotape.
Since then, it's been learned that:
Sikes filed for bankruptcy in San Diego in 2008. According to documents, he was more than $700,000 in debt and roughly five months behind in payments on his Prius;
In 2001, Sikes filed a police report with the Merced County Sheriff's Department for $58,000 in stolen property, including jewelry, a digital video camera and equipment and $24,000 in cash;
Sikes has hired a law firm, though it has indicated he has no plans to sue Toyota;
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
“We did it for a show.” [/6-year-old voice]
His story reminded me of mackerel on ice. It smells and it shines.
Shades of the balloon boy’s freak dad.
Very interesting. I think he owed on the Prius and thought maybe this would get him a new one, comped of something. Perhaps a nice settlement, too.
Between GM, UAW and the trial lawyers, and the fact that Toyota is based mostly in the south, this is starting to look really strange.
BTW, if any of you are in a runaway car, please put it in neutral (N) immediately, and step on the brakes. It’s not that hard.
A gold digger for sure.
Suicide-by-automobile, where the guy chickened out before he could bring himself to swing over into oncoming traffic.
Abutments are really much better to secure a sure self-kill.
Sounds like the nut behind the wheel was what was out of control.
BAD ADVICE! The key is the THROW THE CAR INTO REVERSE and PUNCH THE ACCELERATOR and YANK THE WHEEL HARD TO THE RIGHT!
Take your seat belt off first, of course.
I always figured something smelled with this guy. California is litigation nuts and this guy is looking for a quick payday settlement from Toyota.
And make sure the charges are set and the cameras are rolling, stuntman.
It's worked every time I tried it!
Well, and the DNC-inspired news media were all set to jump on his story. I wonder if this expose will get past Fox into the media? Not if Obama, the Democrats, or Government Motors have any say in the matter.
I think it may not always be as easy as it sounds. If you're on a highway already going fast and the car starts going faster, your first instinct will be to take your foot off the gas pedal and hit the brakes, with the assumption that this will work. When it doesn't work, you may already be having serious trouble maintaining control of the car's direction or weaving around other vehicles whose drivers don't immediately recognize that you're unable to slow down. Taking a hand off the steering wheel to switch gears may be genuinely dangerous. You'll do it eventually, but not necessarily before your brakes are wiped out from being pushed down hard while the car is going 60 or 70 or more mph.
I also read yesterday that the guy owns and operates a “swingers” wife-swapping website.
I’d say we’re better than 50-50 that this was staged.
You forgot to tell them to yank the door handle with that hard right turn.
And if you can get the car to roll once or twice, that’s even better.
If a forensic examination of the car shows that it doesn’t match his story, he’ll be wishing hard that he could go back to the set of problems he had before this incident.
You are implying that the doors are there.... I already instructed them to remove the door and half-hang out of the car when doing all this.
I think Toyota should start a marketing campaign ...
“Just flip it! A car can’t runaway if its wheels aren’t on the ground!”
“BAD ADVICE! The key is the THROW THE CAR INTO REVERSE and PUNCH THE ACCELERATOR and YANK THE WHEEL HARD TO THE RIGHT”
Put it in reverse if you want the transmission to provide you with an enema of biblical proportions.
Right off the bat Freepers were very suspicious of this incident
Running from the Repo-man!
Behind on his payments, and right out of Obama’s Play Book, he planned to blame it on the “evil capitalistic corporation”.
In a just world, Toyota would be able to sue him for disparagement, and if he didn’t have the funds to pay, he would be sent to debtors prison.
A scam from the beginning.
I never bought this guy’s story. 911 call did not sound legit.
I give my enemas a good enema.
Because, as they say, the enema of my enema is my friend.
I'd say there's better than a 90-10 odds that he's a registered Dem! (10% chance he's a Rino!)
Could our wonderful government be in on this??
What ever happened to The Unit?
No, can't reach down to put it in neutral, that would be dangerous, might lose control.
The safe thing to do is fumble for your cell phone to make a call and blab on it for ten minutes while you're careening down the highway at 94 miles per hour and purportedly with no way to stop.
Makes perfect sense to me, that's exactly what I'd do, if it ever happens to me. /s
It was cancelled after Season 4. There was a rumor that it was going to be bought by a cable network, but I haven’t heard anything of it in a while. They play reruns some on B-level networks — UPN, etc.
Didn't the guy claim that he tried that and it wouldn't shift?
And he also claimed to have been standing on the brakes and that they didn't do anything. Even tried to use the emergency brake and nothing.
If he had his foot on the brakes a simple inspection of the pads/rotors will tell the truth because one or both would be worn beyond serviceability or show severe glazing, etc.
Can't be that hard. This guy managed to pick-up his cell phone and dial 911 while maintaining control of a runaway vehicle :-)
The officer who assisted the driver stated that he could smell the brakes burning as he drove by to assist the driver.
Could very well be overall, but this case sounds more like plain old fraud.
Yes but (giving him the benefit of the doubt) it took him a while. The police officer who helped him stop said his brakes were down to nothing.
What I never understood was why he refused to try a suggestion from the 911 operator that he take the car out of drive, that he move the gear-shift lever to neutral - he refused; which made no sense!
Despite reading many posts on FR slamming Toyota, I am reserving judgment on all of this. It seem very strange that after the government gets into the car business, the top selling company suddenly has all of these safety issues. The timing is not by coincidence IMO.
The Unit was my favorite show.
He supposedly tried the emergency brake? Yeah, I’m going to pull that doing 70 mph on the highway in a FWD car.
I’m not assuming that this guy’s story is legit. But for people in general, if you have a hands-free phone that you can just push buttons on quickly (don’t even have to get all three digits in the same hand-off-the-wheel moment) that may be a lot easier than shifting gears.
I’m just saying that shifting gears while trying to maintain control of a speeding car is probably harder in real life than it sounds. And I’m not saying one shouldn’t try to shift the gear, but I can see where depending on the circumstances, it maight take a while.
Mr. Sikes’ story is certainly suspicious, especially given the amazing “coincidence” that he had just taken the car into a Toyota dealership and been told the car wasn’t part of the recall. He may well have just bought himself several years of free lodging in prison (at taxpayer expense, naturally).
early on several of us were suspicious - seems he had the wherewithal to make a cell phone call, and wait for the cops to arrive, yet couldn’t shift to neutral.
come to think of it, I wonder just how many of these ‘runaway’ cars are just being used for purposes of insurance, lawsuit bait?
I'm in the same camp. I've owned Toyotas all my adult life (since 1977). Every one of them have been excellent, reliable and they Just. Won't. Die. We're currently still driving a 1996 Camry and a 1991 Camry wagon.
I admit we do not have any of the later models that have been recalled...
I agree. I think the problem is very real (though not necessarily in this particular case), but serious attention to it seems to have been suppressed for quite a long time, until it became politically useful to shine a spotlight on it.
I own two Priuses, a 2005 with 140k miles and a 2008 with 50K miles. These are good cars. I have not had the first problem with either of them. After hearing of this guy’s claimed acceleration problem, I took my 2008 model (same model and even color as this guy’s) and took it to 80 mph (it is NOT hard to do, amazingly) keeping the gas on, I moved my right hand about three inches and pushed the electronic transmission to the left and it went right into neutral and began slowing down.
IT AIN’T HARD TO DO.
It seems likely that this one was, but others clearly weren't. The California Highway Patrol officer who was killed along with 3 members of his family, wasn't faking.
People with money problems don’t lawyer-up for no reason.
I’m late to this party so this point has likely already been made but how can anyone drive at a consistent 90+ mph for over 20 minutes in San Diego?
And if anyone has a link to the 911 call it would be appreciated. Thanks.
Same here. First two cars were a Ford and Plymouth. They fell apart. Got my first Toyota in 1980 and I’ve stuck with them—partly because, as you say, they just don’t die!