The LA Times bought it not because the LA Times is gullible, but because the LA Times is anti-business, and in particular, anti-Toyota, and pro-Government Motors.
But, the whole thing is unraveling, just like the Anthropogenic Global Warming Myth.
From the USA Today:
DETROIT — Jim Sikes is finding out the downside of instant celebrity in the Internet age after his highly publicized trip in a runaway Toyota Prius: You have no secrets.
As National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota inspectors continue to take apart his vehicle — which he says took him on a 23-minute, out-of-control race down a freeway — Jalopnik, an auto blog, posted details of his financial situation and set off speculation about his tale.
Sikes filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and the Prius is his sole remaining car.
He tells USA TODAY that, while he hopes to get a replacement car out of this ordeal, he isn't planning to sue Toyota or otherwise profit. "You had to be there. People can second-guess all they want, but you can't live a life until you've lived it."
Bankruptcy court records show that in 2008, Toyota was listed as a $19,000 creditor, the value of the leased Prius, which has to be returned.
His total debt was $700,000, and he has had a Mercedes, a boat and a motor home repossessed. The bank also took back a 2007 Dodge Ram, leaving him and his wife with just the Prius.
While Sikes is current on his lease payments, he has to give the car back in a few months, which would leave him carless.
Toyota has questioned details of Sikes' story, noting the Prius hybrid has a brake override that is supposed to slow the engine when the brake is applied. The car's brake system also helps recharge the battery, and the override system prevents overloading the car's electronics.
As to why he didn't put the car in neutral and coast to a stop, Sikes says he panicked, and was afraid that would "flip the car."
"I've since found out that's not possible, but I had no idea," Sikes says. "Hopefully, I helped save five to 10 lives because people are now finding out" how to put a moving Prius into neutral.
Sikes' bankruptcy court filing showed he also owed $115,000 on 16 credit cards. He filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which meant all of his debt would be eliminated, but also resulted in liquidation of almost everything he owned.
Toyota and NHTSA dispatched engineers this week to examine the car. There is a chance, though, that they'll find nothing to confirm or refute details Sikes provided. The circumstances of many instances of sudden acceleration have been such that they do not register error codes in Toyota's computer systems.
"We are eagerly awaiting the results," says Mike Michels, Toyota's head of public relations.