911 Tape Released from Runaway Vehicle on I-81 - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

911 Tape Released from Runaway Vehicle on I-81

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Two teenagers are safe thanks to their quick thinking. 

On Tuesday, two teens from Harrisonburg, 19-year-old Amy Guevara and 19-year-old Sean Wies, jumped from a car on Interstate 81 after the brakes stopped working and the car reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. A 17-minute long 911 tape captured the terror they went through when their car wouldn't stop. 

Guevara and Wies were driving to class Tuesday at about 12:30 p.m. when the brakes on their 1998 Mazda Protégé stopped working.  The passenger, Wies, called 911.  

The following was recorded on the 911 call:    

Weis:  "We're on the highway. I'm in a car with someone who's driving and we're hitting the brake and it's not stopping.  So we're just trying to...we can't stop."  

Dispatcher: "There's no way you can put it in a different gear to slow it down or anything?" 

Weis: "No, we can't stop the car. She like…her foot is pressing completely on the brake and we're not stopping at all. 

In fact the car kept accelerating to 90 and beyond with traffic hazards on the horizon. Troopers and Augusta County sheriff's deputies surrounded the car to protect other drivers. 

The teens made a split decision. They took the car into the median and jumped out while it was still moving.  Virginia State Police Sergeant Chris Aikens swung his cruiser into the path of the driverless car, stopping it from crashing into oncoming traffic.  

Weis was not injured. Aikens and Wies have non-life-threatening injuries. 

It appears the throttle of the Mazda could be the reason why the car wouldn't stop.  The mechanic at the shop where the Mazda is at says he's never heard of this problem before in Mazdas - or any other car for that matter.

Sergeant Aikens will talk with the media Thursday about the incident.

Listen to the full 911 call in the audio above to hear in their own words how panicked they were when the car went out of control on I-81.



Virginia State Police
Press Release

AUGUSTA CO. – A teenager and a state police sergeant are being treated for injuries sustained in a high-speed incident on Interstate 81 Tuesday afternoon (April 9, 2013) in Augusta County, Va.

At 12:32 p.m., a 911 call was transferred to the Virginia State Police Appomattox Division's Emergency Communications Center from a 19-year-old male. The young man was the passenger in a 1998 Mazda Protégé that was traveling south on Interstate 81. The vehicle was at the 230 mile marker at Weyers Cave and the brakes were not working. According to the teenager, the car was going approximately 60 mph, but would gain and lose speed in accordance with the grade of the interstate.

A Virginia State Police dispatcher stayed on the line with the passenger as troopers responded to the moving vehicle's location. The dispatcher passed along various solutions for the driver to do in an attempt to get the car stopped. Meanwhile, additional troopers and deputies with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office were positioning themselves around the car in order to keep other vehicles along I-81 from being struck.

As the car reached the 218 mile marker, the young man said it was moving at approximately 110 mph. At approximately 12:45 p.m. near the 218 mile marker, both the driver and passenger leapt from the moving car. Virginia State Police Sgt. C.J. Aikens then positioned his vehicle in front of the Mazda to stop and force it into the guardrail off the left shoulder of the southbound lanes of I-81. The Mazda was traveling at roughly 100 mph when it struck Aikens' patrol car.


The Mazda ran into the median and slowed to approximately 30 mph – 40 mph when the male passenger jumped from the front seat of the car. He was dragged a slight distance before finally being able to break free from the car. Moments later, as the car continued south through the grassy median, the female driver jumped from the car. The car then continued – driverless and gaining speed – through the median headed for the northbound traffic on I-81… at which time Sgt. Aikens was able to catch up with the car. The sergeant rammed the car back into the median and then into the southbound lanes. Sgt. Aikens continued to ram the driverless car towards a guardrail off the right side of the road to finally trap and stop it.

The 19-year-old driver, Amy D. Guevara of Harrisonburg, Va., was not injured, but has been taken to Augusta Health as a precautionary measure. The passenger, Sean Wies, was transported to Augusta Health for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Sgt. Aikens is also being treated for non-life threatening injuries at Augusta Health.

The Virginia State Police Accident Reconstruction Team responded to the scene to investigate the incident. No charges will be filed.

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