Runaway Prius Driver Faces Questions As Probe Begins
7:40 AM, Mar 10, 2010
As Toyota and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration investigate Jim Sikes' Prius, 10News looked into the obstacles Sikes may face going forward.Sikes made the TV network rounds following his ordeal with his runaway Prius on Monday. In the meantime, the California Highway Patrol said they would leave the credibility of his story to federal investigators.10News uncovered files from Sikes' 2008 Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and criminologist Suzanne Goodney Lea said anyone who reports problems with Toyotas is likely to come under additional scrutiny."Seems like an easy way to cash in and make a lot of money," said Lea.While no on is claiming Sikes wants to cash in, experts said he may face questions because of his financial situation.According to his bankruptcy records, he had a $700,000 debt. Additionally, his debts included two homes he was upside down to the tune of $240,000. He had credit card debt to deal with, including $12,000 owed to Bank of America, $38,000 owed to Citibank and $15,000 owed to Discover.Brian Pennings of the CHP said, "There was nothing in this evidence of the vehicle or evidence of his statement or our observations to discredit his statement as of Monday."The CHP has closed its case just as Toyota and federal investigators begin theirs.It will be an intense probe that Lea said would focus just as much on Sikes as his car.10News spoke to Sikes late Wednesday afternoon and he said is not looking to make any financial gain from the incident. He added he was not looking to sue Toyota and is not seeking a financial settlement.