Sunday, March 14, 2010

When will James Sikes come clean?

I will presume that my readers have heard of James Sikes. As of right now, just type jame into Google News' search box, and "james sikes prius" is the third suggested result.

It sounded fishy to me from the start. I IMd a friend on March 8, the day it happened,
The radio news said some guy's Prius outside San Diego started "accelerating out of control" today. The car got up to 90. The driver called 911, and a cop pulled in front of him and braked to slow both cars down. But wait a minute, if the car was still accelerating, what good would that do? And why didn't they tell him to put it in neutral?
It turned out the 911 operator did tell Sikes to shift to neutral, but (the news conflicts here) he ignored it and/or said he couldn't because he was holding his cell phone.

On March 9th, I IMd the same friend,
The more I hear about this, the more I think he was probably caught speeding and made this up. In Southern California, 94 on highways is not much above the norm.

CBS radio news played his 911 call, saying his voice showed terror, but he didn't sound that scared to me.
And that was just the snippet that the mainstream media played for sensationalism and sympathy. The full recording of the 911 call made me smell a rat.

Over at Three Sources, brother JohnGalt linked to Michael Fumento, who's been exposing Sike's lies. I replied,
Thanks for the link, JG. Fumento is the man.

This didn't smell right to me either. At first I thought, "Here's another idiot who doesn't know to push it in neutral," but he was TOLD THAT and yet ignored it. What about the woman who testified before Congress about her Toyota going out of control, yet not so badly that she had time to call her husband? She said she just wanted to hear his voice one last time. Riiiiiight.

From the start, I've been telling a friend that, yeah, there probably are a few genuine cases of a problem, but now everyone's jumping on the bandwagon. The next day, a housekeeper driving her employer's Prius experienced...ta-da! A stuck accelerator!

It's like the swine flu hysteria: a couple of students come back from spring break with the flu, and suddenly entire schools shut down because "hundreds of students complained about flu-like symptoms." On beautiful spring days, no less.

In the San Diego case, the pedal was physically stuck down, the driver said. He also claimed he reached down and tried to pull it back. But an article I saw yesterday very briefly mentioned that when the police examined the car, both pedals were in their resting position.


First, 90 mph on a Southern Cali freeway really isn't much faster than normal.

Second, the guy said he was passing a truck when the accelerator stuck.

Third, the cop was coincidentally in the area, or at least close enough for pursuit.

You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to put it all together: the guy was speeding, saw a cop car or thought he saw one, and figured that "my accelerator stuck" was the way to get out of it, get his name in the news, and maybe get some cash from Toyota. The very moment that the mainstream news^H^H^H^Hpropagandists started the crap, every unscrupulous Toyota owner knew how to extort the company.

There was a guy in the Bronx who recently claimed his new debit card was stolen. A total of $7200 was drained from his account before he alerted Bank of America. His PIN would have also been necessarily stolen, because there were multiple ATM withdrawals. Surveillance cameras showed only that whoever it was wore a hood tightly drawn around his face.

I don't believe the guy for a second. New cards must be activated by calling a number, AND at the least entering the last four digits of your SSN. And if it isn't the phone number registered to your account, you'll probably talk to a live customer service rep and go through further verification. So unless he's had his SSN stolen, and other info to verify his identity, it's basically impossible for a thief to steal and activate the new card.

Bank of America initially refused to reimburse the guy, saying it had every indication of fraud by the customer. But they relented in the face of bad publicity, which was really too bad. Now every BofA customer requesting a new card knows what to do, see?
But now it doesn't look like a way to get out of a speeding ticket. In later comments, Lisa gave these links to Forbes, where Fumento debunked Sikes' claims and reminded us that Sikes "stopped the car on his own," and a Fox News article that shows Sikes as the type I wouldn't trust to discard my used chewing gum.

The NY Daily News has reported:
The story of a runaway Prius appears to be ballooning out of control.

In the wake of a congressional memo that raised doubts about James Sikes' tale concerning his out of control Toyota more than a week ago in California, the 61-year-old now just wants to be left alone.

"We're just fed up with it all," said Patty Sikes, his wife.

Online reports have increasingly called into question aspects of Sikes' claim that the accelerator got stuck and he was unable to stop, and others have delved into his personal finances, revealing that in 2008 he declared bankruptcy with more than $700,000 in debts.

Since the incident, Patty Sikes says she and her husband have received death threats, and that the whole thing has "ruined" their careers.

"Life is just not good anymore," Patty said.

According to the memo, obtained over the weekend by the Associated Press, efforts to duplicate the circumstances with the accelerator described by Sikes to police failed.

"It does not appear to be feasibly possible, both electronically and mechanically, that [Sikes'] gas pedal was stuck to the floor and he was slamming on the brake at the same time," the memo stated, noting that every time they hit the brake the "engine shut off and the car immediately started to slow down."

The investigation did, however, show that the front brake pads had been worn.

"Visually checking the brake pads and rotor it was clearly visible that there was nothing left," it said.

Skepticism over Sikes' harrowing tale, which had him speeding along at upwards of 94 mph on Interstate 8 near San Diego last week, is understandable in the aftermath of the infamous "Balloon Boy" story that saw dozens of media outlets get fooled when the tale turned out to be false.

But as of now, it would appear that Sikes and his wife are not looking for the attention the Heene family allegedly craved.

"Everyone can just leave us alone," Patty Sikes said. "Jim didn't get hurt. There's no intent at all to sue Toyota. If any good can come out of this, maybe they can find out what happened so other people don't get killed."
Other news reports indicate he just wants a new car. Riiiiiight. If my life had been so threatened by a product in good faith, I would have never let this go.

Jalopnik has been revealing even more about Sikes' (alleged) past. This and other exposés explain why Sikes now wants to be left alone. He's been caught.

You should have never pulled this stunt, Sikes. A few people learned the hard way that you're not to be trusted. Now the country -- and people beyond -- know.


Blogger Underground Carpenter said...

Hi Perry,
The media is doing a real number on Toyota. I'm amazed that this much came out about Sikes.
Mrs. UC drives a Prius and it's a great car.


Monday, March 15, 2010 6:09:00 PM  

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