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2002 Toyota Sienna slips into fast reverse & brake won't work

Tonight our 2002 Toyota Sienna (automatic transmission) was in drive, but stopped (foot on brake) during a traffic jam. Traffic picked up and the driver moved his foot from brake to gas. The car went into reverse at a high speed. The brake did not work. The driver quickly changed gears to park. 1. What is (are) the problems resulting in this situation? 2. Has additional damage been done by switching into park? 3. Is it safe to drive to the repair shop?

The transmission and brakes are separate systems. I can’t imagine a situation where the car would suddenly be in reverse and the brakes wouldn’t work either unless you ran over something large in the road that damaged the shifter linkage and the brake lines simultaneously. This would not have been a pothole or subtle impact like a piece of gravel. Since reverse is geared differently than first, the same accelerator pressure in reverse would result in a much faster takeoff than if the transmission was starting out in first gear.

Is it possible the the shifter was inadvertently knocked into reverse while sitting in traffic, then the driver panicked when the car suddenly lurched backwards?

I suspect that the car will drive normally when you try to drive it. How did you get home after the incident? Did the driver just continue along normally?