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Evidence of Prius accelerator problem eludes investigators

Federal investigators cannot find evidence that a Toyota Prius that reportedly zoomed out of control up Interstate 8 in East County, and the car’s brakes do not show signs that they had been stomped on to counteract a stuck throttle, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The newspaper quoted three people close to the investigation as saying a joint federal-Toyota probe of the suspect car did not find signs that its brakes had been applied at full force at high speeds over a sustained period of time, which the Journal said “raises questions about the driver’s version of the event.”

“The brakes were discolored and showed wear, but the pattern of friction suggested the driver had intermittently applied moderate pressure on the brakes, these people said,” the Journal reported.

A congressional memorandum obtained by the Associated Press in Washington says the Prius was repeatedly tested Thursday and did not continue to accelerate when the brakes were applied.

James Sikes, a 61-year-old real estate agent, said his Toyota sped out of control Monday on Interstate 8. A California Highway Patrol officer used a loudspeaker and instructed Sikes how to shut the engine off and coast to a stop.