Driver in Westchester Prius Crash Was Headed to Dealer: Cop

Woman says accelerator got stuck, car went out of control

By Tracie Strahan
|  Thursday, Mar 11, 2010  |  Updated 10:58 PM EDT
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Woman Driver Blames Toyota for Car Crash

NBCNewYork.com

Oh, what a feeling: This Toyota Prius went out of control in Harrison, N.Y. as a 56-year-old woman was leaving her driveway.

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Woman Driver Blames Toyota for Car Crash

Harrison womans says she couldn't stop and smashed into a wall when her Toyota sped out of control.
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The crash victim who claimed her Toyota Prius accelerated on its own was on her way to have its gas pedal checked at the time of the accident, police say.

Harrison police Capt. Anthony Marraccini said Thursday the driver had not experienced previous problems with acceleration. But she had arranged a check because of publicity about sticky gas pedals. He said she was on her way to the dealership when she crashed on Monday.

The 56-year-old driver told police she was easing down her employer's driveway in Harrison when the car began to speed up. She said she did not know whether the gas pedal stuck.

She said she applied the brakes but the car lurched across two lanes of traffic and into a stone wall. She was not seriously injured.

Earlier, Marraccini said it appeared the floor mat wasn't a factor and the problems started as soon as the woman left her garage.

"She lost control exiting the driveway, jumped the curb, and then crossed two lanes of traffic on Purchase Street, crashing into the stone wall," said Marraccini. "The impact with the wall was pretty substantial."

The air bags deployed when the car hit the stone wall of the estate across the street. On Wednesday, five boulders and smaller filler stones were strewn about — some 10 feet from the wall. Broken glass, plastic headlight pieces and metal that looked like part of a window frame were nearby.

The car's owner, Joseph Leff, said his family's housekeeper had been behind the wheel. He declined to identify her or say whether she was back at work.

"She's a wonderful driver," said Leff. "It's not her fault. It's the car."

Toyota is fighting fears that the crashes are caused by faulty electronics rather than by mechanical problems. Representatives at the company's U.S. sales headquarters in Torrance, Calif., did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.
Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide. In some cases, floor mats can cause the accelerator to stick.

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