Mr. Sikes's Wild Ride

Is James Sikes a poor, unsuspecting driver who had the bejeebers scared out of him thanks to a stuck accelerator, or is he up to something nefarious?

It's time to look cross-eyed at another victim again, because he might not be a victim.

This is getting a little balloon boy-ish.

Sikes says he was driving his Toyota Prius last week in California, when it suddenly accelerated out of control. He reached speeds in excess of 90 mph before he came to a halt, with the help of CHiP officers.

His frantic 911 call---is ANY 911 call NOT frantic?---was played for public consumption. He spoke openly with the media, and although his reluctance to put the car into neutral was odd, there didn't appear to be anything less than truthful about his story.

Only, experts have been unable to replicate the stuck accelerator on his car after several hours of test driving, and the condition of his brakes aren't consistent with someone who jammed on them while going that fast for that long.

What's more, Toyota officials say the Prius is equipped with a mechanism that shuts the engine off if someone jams on the brakes while the accelerator is engaged.

David Justo of Toyota Motor Sales headquarters, described in a memo as Toyota's residential hybrid expert, said that if the car's gas pedal was stuck to the floor, and the driver applied the brake, the engine would shut down.

"If the engine does not shut down, then the gears would be spinning [past] their maximum revolutions per minute and completely seize the engine," the memo said, quoting Justo. "So, in his case ... it does not appear to be feasibly possible, both electronically and mechanically that his gas pedal was stuck to the floor and he was slamming on the brake at the same time."


In this nothing-is-truly-private digital world we live in, skeletons are already being found in Sikes's closet, even though he never let us into his house. The press broke in.

Jim Sikes meets the press after his wild ride

They found that Sikes owes a lot of money on his home and to others. So naturally the conspiracy theorists think that Sikes is trying to shake Toyota down for some dough. It was also revealed that Sikes, or someone representing him, has reached out to Larry King and other on-air personalities, so he can tell his story.

I'll say it again: hmmmm.

Comparisons are being made to the balloon boy incident, that infamous escapade last summer of a boy supposedly trapped inside a homemade hot air balloon. That, of course, was proved to be a hoax.

Is Sikes trying to capitalize on the scare over Toyota vehicles? Did his accelerator really stick? Or did it stick, but he didn't do enough to stop it?

Or is he simply an innocent man being made to look opportunistic due to conflicting facts that may ultimately prove to be explainable?

I saw one of Sikes's interviews, conducted as he sat in his car. He appeared to be sincere, but who the hell knows?

He did say something odd, though.

"I haven't given up on Toyota. I just won't drive another Prius."


If I nearly lost my life in a carmaker's vehicle, that company would be crossed off my list.

It's like nearly dying from food poisoning after eating a bad corned beef sandwich at a diner, but vowing to return to the diner---just making sure not to order the corned beef next time.

Mr. Sikes can do whatever he wants, of course. It's his life.

What he can't do, and get away with it, is punk Toyota, and the rest of us in the process.

I sure hope he's not.


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