An out-of-control Toyota Prius was brought to a halt today in San Diego by a California Highway Patrol car putting itself in front of it like a brake. According to the CHP, the car suffered from a stuck accelerator. UPDATE.
The driver of the runaway Toyota Prius, 61-year-old James Sikes, called CHP while driving eastbound on Interstate 8 near San Diego around 1:30 PM PST, complaining about a stuck accelerator and being unable to shift the car into neutral. California Highway Patrol responded, putting a patrol car in front of the Prius, eventually stopping the car near La Posta Bridge. This high-profile incident comes on the same day Toyota made just-as-high-a-profile defense of its cars against an ABC News report Toyota calls a "careful and deliberate manipulation" of the facts.
"[They] learned of a report that a California Highway Patrol (CHP) unit was dispatched in response to a 911 call from a motorist driving a Prius on Interstate 8 in San Diego County who said the accelerator pedal was stuck. The report states that the CHP unit slowed in front of the vehicle and acted as a brake to bring it to a stop. Toyota has dispatched a field technical specialist to San Diego to investigate the report and offer assistance."
The car is a second-generation Prius, which is under a floormat recall.
UPDATE The CHP has released this statement indicating maybe the CHP car didn't stop the car until it mostly came to a stop:
On March 8, 2010, at approximately 1:30 PM Mr. James Sikes (61) was traveling eastbound on I-8 from Lake Jennings Park Rd. in a Blue Toyota Prius. As he attempted to accelerate past a slower moving vehicle, he noticed that the vehicle seemed be accelerating on its own. He immediately attempted to slow his vehicle unsuccessfully. Reaching speeds of over 90 mph he called 911. The California Highway Patrol immediately went through a series of actions with negative results.
CHP Officers immediately responded to the area were able to locate the vehicle eastbound I-8 east of Kitchen Creek Rd. A CHP Officer was able to pull along side and instruct Mr. Sikes via the PA system. With the Officers assistance, he was able to slow the Prius to approximately 50 m.p.h. The Officer then placed his patrol vehicle in front of the Prius as it came to a stop in the number #1 lane of e/b I-8. The Officer then placed the patrol vehicle against the front bumper of Prius.
The vehicles did not touch until after they came to a stop.
UPDATE 2: And now there's video from MSNBC of the driver explaining what happened, saying the Prius "jumped and then stuck there":
Click to viewWe've also been told the CHP officer claims he "smelled brakes" when pulling up alongside the Prius.
UPDATE 3: More information on how the Prius driver responded, or didn't, to the incident.