Anyone recall a runaway car that hit a state patrol vehicle?

Years ago, back east in the 1980’s I recall, a woman called 9-1-1 panicking that her throttle was stuck and she could not stop her speeding car. (Cell phone in the 1980s?)

She was on a highway or interstate and traveled many miles spanning perhaps 20 to 30 minutes.

A state highway patrol office got out in front of her and she rammed his vehicle.

Was the cause ever discovered?

My coworkers thought she simply had her foot on the throttle instead of the brake.

The vehicle braking system checked out OK.

I’ve seen a mechanical throttle linkage stick at WOT. It can happen.

Shifting to neutral would remove the engine’s ability to “run away” with a vehicle under these conditions, and allow a driver to safely steer and brake to a stop.


We cannot understand why she drove so many miles without either placing the vehicle in Neutral or turning off the ignition (though that could lock the steering wheel if turned too far), or pushing hard on the brake to overcome engine horsepower - unless she pushed enough to cause brake heating and fade.

Did I see this portrayed on a TV program like Rescue 9-1-1 while on duty at my ambulance company?

Yes, she claimed that she couldn’t shift into neutral or turn the key off. The car (a Kia, I think) was examined and nothing was found to be wrong with it. A few days later, she made the same claim and drove around in circles for a while.

It then came out that she had found out that she had overpaid on the car and she was upset with the deal she had. She stopped paying on it.

She was charged with fraud related to her claims about the run away car. She was ordered to turn the car over to the court for examination. She crashed (totaled) the car on the way to court. Another court date was set for her after the crashed car was examined. She didn’t show up for court, and they couldn’t find her. An arrest warrant was issued. From there, I don’t know what happened.

This was on Dateline a few years back, I think.

I remember reading a story in Reader’s Digest quite a few years back (10?) about a VW (Jetta, I think) that had this problem and the lady couldn’t shift into neutral or shut the key off. Her brakes had overheated and faded as well. (Sounds like a bad plot from a movie but I really did read the article.) She called 911 and the highway patrol tried to help her get stopped. She ended up crashing but survived.

Thank you.
How can one be prevented from shifting into NEUTRAL?
Was there a mechanical problem which prevented her from shifting into neutral?
But she had to shift through neutral to get into Drive.

Demon possession?

Can something happen which jams the transmission or shift lever?

In California, staging automobile accidents is an INDUSTRY…Their insurance premiums reflect this “wealth without work” mindset…

Yes, I read the same article. It was some VW product, although I thought it was a Golf. It was in Reader’s Digest, although I think it was more that 10 years ago.