Two teenagers were driving a 1998 Mazda Protege in Virginia yesterday when the brakes stopped working. That sent the occupants into an amazing, high-speed chase where every solution to slow the car down failed. It ended with the teens jumping out of the car while it was still moving, leaving it to careen into cop cars on the interstate. And somehow nobody was killed.
The scene started yesterday on Southbound I-81 when two teens from Harrisonburg, VA, found that the brakes on the 1998 Mazda Protege they were in were no longer functioning.
The passenger, Sean Wies, placed a call to 911, saying the car would speed and slow down with the gradient of the road. They even reached 100 MPH during the ordeal.
The 911 operator dispatched police to give the driver, Amy Guevara, an escort to alert other motorists and preempt a collision. The operator also gave instructions on how to slow the car down, like shifting to neutral.
Apparently the little Protege wouldn't shift out of gear and applying the parking brake had no effect on the speed. The only other thing I could think of would be turning off the ignition, but it isn't clear if that was an option that was given (UPDATE: Apparently, they did try to turn off the ignition and it wouldn't work. That sounds hard to believe...). They could have turned the car off, then put the ignition back into the 'on' position. This would turn off the engine and disable the steering lock, which means you'd still be able to control the car. There are ways to solve this, and we should, since we've seen this happen before.
Initial reports said that the two occupants of the car jumped out of the Protege onto pavement while it was going 100 MPH and survived with barely a scratch.
That would be a huge miracle. It also isn't true. In fact, the car had entered the grassy median and was traveling at around 40 MPH when the occupants jumped out. That's still not slow, bit it's also a lot slower than 100 MPH. Both were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and released.
After they jumped out of the car, it started to head towards the northbound traffic. That's when State Trooper CJ Aikens put his own patrol car in the way and guided the Protege into the guardrail where it was finally stopped.
All injuries were minor, and everyone involved has already been checked out and released.
(Hat Tip to Blair!)