Investigation into runaway Prius casts doubt on driver’s claims

James Sikes speaks to the press in El Cajon, Calif., on Tuesday.  (Associated Press)
James Sikes speaks to the press in El Cajon, Calif., on Tuesday. (Associated Press)

SAN DIEGO – Investigators with Toyota Motor Corp. and the federal government were unable to make a Toyota Prius speed out of control as its owner said it did on a California freeway, according to a draft memorandum obtained Saturday by the Associated Press that a congressional spokesman says casts doubt on the driver’s story.

James Sikes, 61, called 911 on Monday to report losing control of his Prius as the hybrid reached speeds of 94 mph. A California Highway Patrol officer helped Sikes bring the vehicle to a safe stop on Interstate 8.

Federal and Toyota investigators who examined and test drove the car could not replicate the problems Sikes said he encountered, the memo said.

The findings raise questions about “the credibility of Mr. Sikes’ reporting of events,” said Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee.

Sikes could not be reached for comment. His wife, Patty Sikes, said he stands by his story.

“Everyone can just leave us alone,” she said. “Jim didn’t get hurt. There’s no intent at all to sue Toyota.”

Associated Press

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