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Runaway Prius Driver Ran Porn Site; $700,000 in Debt

from www.knx1070.com – New questions are being raised about the background of the guy in the runaway Prius earlier this week in San Diego. One business owner near where Jim Sikes used to live in Sacramento says he was warned against doing business with Sikes. Also, a former neighbor tells Fox 40 in Sacramento she thought Sikes and his wife were shady and in the porn business.

Records show he and his wife started a web site for swingers that features erotic photos, that Sikes filed for bankruptcy last year, is more than $700,000 dollars in debt, and was five months late on his Prius payments. Sikes has hired a lawyer, but he says he doesn’t want money from Toyota, he just wants a new car. The CHP isn’t questioning Sikes’ story that his gas pedal got stuck.

from www.latimes.com back story:James Sikes bought his Toyota Prius in 2008, and 53,000 miles later the car was driving fine. But on Monday afternoon, when he accelerated to pass another vehicle on Interstate 8 east of San Diego, the car kept going.

“The gas pedal stuck open all the way,” said Sikes, 61, a real estate agent from San Diego.
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For 30 miles, Sikes said, he swerved in and out of traffic, narrowly missing a big rig and trying desperately to slow the vehicle down, at one point reaching down with his hand to pull back on the gas pedal. The brakes were useless.

“I was laying on the brakes,” Sikes said, “but it wasn’t slowing down.”

Sikes recounted his ordeal during a news conference held in front of a Toyota dealership Tuesday as a congressional panel investigating unintended acceleration problems with Toyota vehicles said it received another report of a runaway car in San Diego last Friday.

The vehicle involved in that incident, a 2006 Lexus IS 350, is currently awaiting inspection at a dealership in San Diego, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a letter that urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate both San Diego incidents.

Separately, NHTSA said it was sending two investigators to San Diego County to probe the Monday incident involving Sikes’ Prius.

“They’re special crash investigators, and they’re going to gather the details from the car and find out what the potential causes of any problems are,” said NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana.

Sudden unintended acceleration has been alleged as the cause of 56 fatal accidents involving Toyotas in the U.S. going back as far as 2004. Toyota has issued about 10 million recall notices worldwide recently to address sudden acceleration, braking and other problems in its vehicles, including Sikes’ Prius.

Sikes said his “nerve-racking” experience ended when a CHP officer, responding to his 911 call, instructed him through a loudspeaker to apply his emergency brake in tandem with the brake pedal. Sikes pressed down, hard. “My bottom wasn’t even on the seat,” he said.

When the Prius, which had reached 90 mph, dropped to about 50 mph, Sikes turned off the engine and coasted to a stop. There was nothing else he could have done to stop the car, Sikes said.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”

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