August 28th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

With accelerator jammed at 120 mph, woman fears imminent death

A police dashcam video shows a dark SUV flying past cars and blowing through construction.

The driver's 911 call tells the rest of the story:  Lauri Ulvestad, utterly terrified, frantically steering a 2011 Kia Sorrento with a jammed accelerator taking it to speeds up to 120 mph.

“I told the dispatcher to tell my family I loved them,” Ulvestad, 47, told by phone. “I did not think I was going to make it.”

Ulvestad credits dispatcher Kelly Brieg with keeping her calm and ultimately saving her life.

The Ames, Iowa, resident’s wild ride through Missouri and her home state of Iowa on Interstate 35 lasted about 30 minutes, Ulvestad told CNN affiliate KCCI. She was finally able to stop her car by simultaneously lifting up the accelerator and pushing the brake. She was not injured.

Irvine, California-based Kia Motors America Inc., issued the following statement to CNN:

"Our technicians have been unable to duplicate the issue and this appears to be an isolated incident. KMA will continue to investigate and analyze the facts of this situation and will work with the customer to resolve the matter in a timely manner."

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Filed under: Auto Industry • Automobiles
soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. Portland tony

    Before you berate this driver, bear in mind there are a bunch of vehicles that have keyless ignitions and there is no on-off switch ....only a remote and a start button.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Good point.

      I am glad there was no loss of life!

      August 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      WRONG on so many different scales. Every vehicle with pushbutton start will stop if the button is held in for a few seconds. If nothing else, SHIFT TO NEUTRAL – a blown engine is better than death! But as others have posted, brakes work, too.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • mugzee


      August 29, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mildred

    hey, if you turn the key off, doesn't the steering wheel lock? this is for theft protection. if so, you lose the ability to steer the car. or is there some safety that the steering wheel won't lock unless it's in park? just asking.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • dmojavensis

      The ignition switch generally has four positions: off, accessories, on, and start. Turning it to "accessories" will shut off the engine w/o locking the wheels. Turning it into off position may or may not lock the wheels - that depends on a car, some require you to pull the key out in order to engage the lock.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim P.

      Turn the ignition off then back to the unlocked position if necessary. She had a freaking half hour to figure this stuff out apparently.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BOMBO ©

    I call BS. No way a Kia can do 120.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ron

    Why not just put the car in neutral and let the engine blow up.
    If its manual transmission its easy- if its automatic its also easy to switch from in gear to neutral. whats the problem...

    August 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff W

      Its an Automatc,You can have pushbutton start in manuals, but often it comes with remote start which cant be done with manual transmission without bypassing the interlock.
      Automatic have a shift lock, to prevent it from going into any either neutral or reverse without applying the brakes, you can only down shift to a lower gear and back to drive depending on model.

      I did not see her brake lights come on at any time, but that can be due to sunlight and angle from the police car.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RememberToyota

    This sounds similar to the guy with the Prius in San Diego...and that turned out to be totally bogus. There would have to be multiple failures of modern automotive engineering for this to occur – this is a wired system, not a cabled gas pedal, when the brake pedal is depressed the accelerator automatically disengages, so that programming had to fail, plus the gear shift failed since she says she can't put it in neutral, plus the emergency brake failed (she clearly says it is engaged all the way), plus the braking power of the vehicle is more powerful than the engine, so the brakes completely fail and miraculously the brake lights also fail, but later are working when she comes to a complete stop. You can clearly see other cars braking to get out of the way, but she never seems to hit the brakes at all until the end when she finally stops. And, when inspected there is no evidence of any of this, the brakes were *not* burned up, and that the car is working fine. These are multiple unrelated systems and it's really unlikely that all of those things happened at once. Cars have black boxes too, and KIA is not going to be happy about this...

    August 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Good comment....but the emergency brake only works the rear brakes and engine torque can overcome them. In a real world scenario, I can understand how a person can lose it when something goes wrong they can't understand. Look at the Air France crash of a couple of years ago...and those guys were trained to fly.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • mugzee

      Engine power will easily overcome the rear braking system especially if it has ABS which will not allow the brakes to lock up.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kenney

    Cannon ball run

    August 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    Back in the 80's when Audi was accused of unintended acceleration, many tests were done. One test that stuck with me is that you could take any car (they used a Corvette for the test) and overpower the full-throttle engine with the brakes. If you pressed hard enough on the brake, the car would stop – stopping distances not as much longer than you would think. The magazines I was reading tried this with many cars – including the Audi – and could always stop the car.
    I remember this being demonstrated by several car magazines at the time. I tried this with the Mustang GT I had at the time and I could stop with the gas pedal to the floor.(if you try this at home – make sure you have lots of room...)

    August 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • RememberToyota


      August 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • mugzee

      Really a Mustang GT at speed??? ever heard of something called "Brake Fade"

      August 29, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. clare

    All she has to do is put the car in nutral and ride the brake. she proberly froze.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ♚Mmmmm♛

    if she don't know what to do in a emergent urgent situ maybe thee ole driverrrr license needs a little revoking...

    August 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ♚Mmmmm♛

    and why is kia checking out the car...they have bias motive...imagine the cost of recalls and suits and losses in sales...

    August 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jim P.

    Did this woman think of turning the engine off? Or putting it in neutral or even first gear? For half an hour she sat there with her car running wild and no one, not even the dispatcher said :"Why don't you just turn the *** thing off!"?

    What does she do normally when she gets home? Sit in the driveway idling until she runs out of gas?

    I do not think this woman should be driving until she can prove she knows how to actually use her vehicle's controls.

    We have become a nation of idiots.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Have you ever driven a Kia? There is no key... it is all electronic... just push a start button. I recently drove one in Germany. You don't even put a fob in as a key. Just have it near. The world is changing... you don't know everything. I am sure they tried many things to get it to stop. Everyone is not an idiot no matter what you think.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • BoundGodsFan

      Did you, did you EVEN watch the video? The 911 dispatcher asked her all of those questions and "yes" to all.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bill constantine

    I rented a new small Dodge and I looked around and had to ask were the key is...there is no key...just an insurt...Am I supposed to think all of this when I am picking up speed and not sittin on my ass like we all are right now.....thank s that it ws not me out there dr8vvvvvvllvll399iindnmcm

    August 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Samantha

    I've helped attend many an accident victim in the ER for more than 40 years and for all the so called logical people posting on this board, most of these accident victims wouldn't have been victims if they were thinking logically while driving. I am not referring to DWI people right now. Otherwise normal people who make a bad decision while driving. It is not a "woman" thing or a "man" is a people thing. Over correcting is quite common and notorious for flippi ng a car. Usually good drivers make the mistake of a quick maneuver to get back on the road and lose control. This oman probably had both hands on the sterring wheel and her eyes glued to the road to do her bst to keep control....which she did do. She probably tried the brake over & over, but also did want to stop suddenly. Thing is, for as much as she was in a panic, she kept control the best she could and did not crash. I would say she did a damn good piece of driving. There are most likely a lot of logical drivers out there who couldn't have driven as well. We read about them in the papers all the time. Some of us have attended their funerals.

    August 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mugzee

    Too much "Over-Technology" than is required to make a car operate.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    It's spelled Sorento.

    August 29, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
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