Feb 13, 2018, 4:27 PM ET

'My gas pedal is stuck' BMW driver tells 911 as he barrels down interstate at nearly 100 mph

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A runaway BMW SUV tore down a Florida interstate for nearly 40 miles Monday, but the motorist managed to keep his cool while authorities made several attempts to stop him, telling a 911 dispatcher calmly "my gas pedal is stuck," according to the Florida Highway Patrol and dramatic recordings.

In a statement a BMW spokesperson called the scenario "implausible" and said there were numerous ways in which the driver could have stopped the car. "We would be happy to work with the Florida State Police to investigate the cause of this incident," the company added.

The driver, Joseph Cooper, was alone in his SUV on I-95 near Vero Beach just before 1 p.m. when he lost control, he told emergency dispatchers. Authorities helped control traffic as he careened as fast as 95 mph with a flashers and a green strobe on.

Asked if he could shift to neutral, he told the dispatcher, "I can't, ma'am, I tried that already. I'm trying to hold onto the wheel and talk to you at the same time."

He told the dispatcher he almost hit someone.

"Get out of the way!" he yelled, according to the recording.

PHOTO: A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.Fellsmere Police Dept.
A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.

When authorities tried to slow down the car using spiked stop sticks, Cooper avoided them, the highway patrol reported. The officials tossed out stop sticks again, blowing out the right two tires, which slowed the car down to about 60 mph, the highway patrol said.

Dashcam video released by the Fellsmere Police Department shows an officer deploying spike strips on the interstate in their third and final deployment of strips to try to stop the car. The BMW is seen going over the spike strips which hit the left two tires.

PHOTO: A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.Fellsmere Police Dept.
A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.

PHOTO: A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.Fellsmere Police Dept.
A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.

That slowed the car to 40 mph, but Cooper was still unable to stop. "The vehicle was traveling on all 4 rims with no tire," the highway patrol said.

Minutes later, the video shows the SUV coming to a complete stop, and as smoke surrounds the vehicle, the driver got out to talk to authorities.

PHOTO: A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.Fellsmere Police Dept.
A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.

PHOTO: A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.Fellsmere Police
A man called 911 to say his gas pedal was broken as his car barreled down Interstate 95 in Florida at nearly 100 mph, Feb. 12, 2018.

At that point Cooper had traveled more than 40 miles. Miraculously, no one was injured, Lt. Alvaro Feola of the Florida Highway Patrol told ABC News.

Feola said Cooper made the right choices in the dangerous situation.

"He did call 911, he wore a seat belt, he kept the dispatch aware of the mile markers," Feola said.

"Thank God in this situation nobody got hurt," Feola added. "Traffic was maybe a little light, it wasn't rush hour."

The BMW spokesperson said in the statement that "BMW drivers have long been able to rely on integrated safety systems that help ensure safe operation of every BMW vehicle.

"All BMW vehicles, including the 2003 X5 described in this incident, employ an electronic accelerator pedal which uses software logic to override the accelerator whenever the brake pedal is pressed while driving. This fail-safe software means that if the vehicle detects that both pedals are depressed, the on-board electronics will reduce engine power so that the driver may stop safely.

"Furthermore, the accelerator pedal in BMW vehicles is hinged at the bottom, and mounts to the floor. Therefore an object or floor mat cannot slide under the accelerator pedal and jam it. Original BMW floor mats are custom-fitted for each vehicle, and are installed with anchors to keep them properly located in the front footwells of each vehicle.

"The vehicle could also have been stopped by two additional means: By placing the transmission in neutral and coasting to a stop and/or by shutting off the ignition without removing the key. This is accomplished by turning the key counterclockwise. The engine would have shut off and the driver could have safely coasted the vehicle to a stop."

ABC News' Daniel Steinberger contributed to this report.

News - 'My gas pedal is stuck' BMW driver tells 911 as he barrels down interstate at nearly 100 mph

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  • Bill Freidline

    People underestimate the power of the brakes. I work on cars. If the accelerator is stuck, make sure you are clear behind, and if possible ease off onto the shoulder if paved, and apply the brakes FULLY. Do NOT "feather" them to maintain a lower speed. They aren't designed to dissipate that much heat, but a full-on one-time panic stop will stop you, regardless of the engine running.

  • Joseph Bejjani

    This happened to me!! I had a 2008 BMW X5 and I was driving on the highway with my wife. I accelerated a bit to switch lanes and then after lifting off the gas pedal, I noticed my truck take off like I had the gas pedal completely floored. I panicked slightly, stomped on the brakes, swerved out of traffic, and then reached down and jiggled the gas pedal! It worked. I saved our lives! I went to the BMW dealership the following day, furious! They told me a rod in my gas pedal was bent and I needed to purchase a new gas pedal. Nothing was under recall or warranty. The new gas pedal, "coincidentally" was superseded to a new part number and the new version of this pedal was electronic and had no rod (which was the root cause of my problem) They did nothing for me and didn't even acknowledge the danger it put me and my wife in. If it was my wife driving, I don't think I would be here today. The pedal was stuck for a good 10 seconds of complete acceleration on a major freeway in downtown Detroit. I wish this comment would go viral and hold BMW responsible for what they knew was an existing and dangerous defect in their engineering. And in response to turning off the vehicle, it was a push button start. The shifter is also a bit tricky and would be hard to switch into neutral when you are doing 100mph!

  • Thomas

    Since they have the car now, it should be pretty easy to test the systems to find out if there was a malfunction in any of the car's systems.

  • Cougracer67 .

    So what kind of illegal drug had this guy been ingesting?? He seems to have lost all common sense! In my 37+ years as a certified auto technician I never came across any vehicle that could not be shifted into neutral at any time! Nor any ignition that could not be switched off, unless there was a major failure in the switch, or in the shift linkage, plus a 'stuck' gas pedal, all at the same time? Maybe the guy was stealing (or repossessing) the car and had popped out the ignition lock and was using a screwdriver to start it??

  • Rock

    I don't know what to think of this story. They put spike strips down for him, and he didn't go over them the first time. Sounds like he's looking for a lawsuit. However, back in 2009, 4 or 5 people died in San Diego when a Lexus would not shift into neutral, the car was going like 100 mph, the accelerator was stuck, and the brakes didn't work at all. The car hit another car and launched into the air killing everyone. Massive lawsuit that Lexus lost. They found a floormat from an SUV was put down in place of the normal sized car SUV.

  • Jan

    That happened to me and my daughter in a Pontiac grand am .I managed to pull up the brake shift pressing my foot brake down going downhill as car accelerated from 35 to 45. It kind of swerved but no accident. But my daughter and her bf who was driving the car 5 mo.'s later couldnt stop it. We called the cops they couldnt find them till they decided to cross into a desert area and the dirt stopped them. She was crying on the cell the car had gone up to 50 mi. on a 40. Thank god it was a very long road with low traffic and avoided cars. The Pontiac dealer said they didnt find anything defective. I sold the damn car.

  • Robert Smith

    had the presence of mind to call 911 on his phone but not the wits to put car in neutral. Our society!................ Yikes!

  • Melanie Huff

    Ever think maybe he was in a panicked and wasn't thinking straight and really couldn't stop the vehicle with the means that the BMW Rep said. He had a 911 dispatcher on the phone not the BMW Rep...not like the dispatcher knows how to stop every make and model of car on the road...

  • boboneo

    Boston Brakes. Check it out.

  • toddtour

    How about putting it into neutral and applying the brakes.

  • FakeNews

    He should get 10 years in prison for endangering many lives...

  • Charles_Heston

    This guy is either lying or incredibly stupid.

  • muttonchops

    Brakes?? I don't know much about what would have stopped this car going that fast, But what I do know is how to burn out brakes. I'm the one that used to drive a standard and it really took a lot of time to learn to keep my foot off the brake.
    I was so used to using a clutch to shift gears.
    So going that fast would you not strip the breaks trying to stop the car.

  • Michael

    My feelings on this are neutral.

  • Espen Hugaas Andersen

    Was he arrested? Clearly he was lying.

  • Daniel Waldron

    Conspiracy Theory time - This was a cleverly designed suicide attempt. Goal was to get life insurance to payout. By calling 911 and staying on the phone, he dispels the thought that he is doing this intentionally. But in the car, he has his foot jammed on the accelerator the entire time and his hope was that he would crash and die and his family would receive the payout.

    Or it was simply a defect in the car :P

  • Abdol Saleh

    This driver is so stupid.... He prefers to have his tires be blown up at over 100 mile than slowly applying his breaks (He claimed his breaks were not in a good shape...LMAOL) ...he also expects some lady on the other end of a phone call to help him rather than using his own brain,..if he has any brain... How people like him get to drive A Bmer anyways..?!!!....

  • Thomas

    I would like to hear an explanation why he could not shift into neutral.

    BMW brings up the excellent second point about turning off the ignition.

  • Johnny Billingslea

    A BIG RED kill switch on the dashboard! Just like the emergency shut off buttons at gas stations. Simple fix.