Woman sues Austin parking garage after car plummeted seven stories


Highlights

Cedar Park resident Christi Bowmer is seeking more than $1 million in the suit.

The suit alleges the owner and operators of Littlefield Garage were negligent.

Bowmer said she wants to recoup her medical expenses and raise awareness.

The woman whose car plummeted from the seventh floor of a downtown Austin parking garage last month has sued the garage’s owner and its management, alleging they were negligent by not upgrading a cable barrier system that failed to keep the car from going over the edge of the building.

Cedar Park resident Christi Bowmer, 49, is asking for more than $1 million in damages from the company, GTT Parking LP, which owns the Littlefield Garage at East Sixth and Brazos streets. The company’s owner, Sheldon Kahn, is also being sued in Travis County state District Court.

MORE: City records raise doubts about repairs, inspections of Austin garage

“This case is about defendants putting profits over safety and knowingly exposing garage residents to foreseeable dangers,” the suit said.

Bowmer was seriously injured in the July 13 crash, in which her black BMW 328i hard-top convertible went over the side of the garage, smashed into the building opposite the narrow downtown alley, then went into a nosedive, colliding with another vehicle on the ground. According to a police report, Bowmer told an officer she might have mistakenly hit the accelerator instead of the brake while trying to park.

PHOTOS: Car plunges off downtown Austin parking garage

The crash was the second time in less than a year that a car has gone over the side of Littlefield Garage, which has a series of steel retention cables instead of a concrete retaining wall on the sides of each parking level. In September 2016, a sports utility vehicle went through the cables on the ninth floor and over the side of the garage, where the vehicle dangled from one of the cables while the driver climbed to safety. That incident made national headlines.

GTT Parking refused to comment Wednesday on Bowmer’s lawsuit, but on the day of the crash it issued a statement saying “we regret the unfortunate incident … and are thankful that no lives were lost.”

The parking garage’s spokesman, Jason Meeker, also said at the time that “after the previous incident, we engaged a structural engineer to review the situation, and repairs to the safety barriers were performed according to his recommendation.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Driver recalls ‘sheer terror’ of hanging off 9-story Austin garage

An American-Statesman investigation of the incidents found that GTT Parking didn’t meet the codes for cable barriers when the garage was built in 1979 and that the city’s code enforcement took unverified claims of repairs at face value after the first incident. City officials later determined those repairs hadn’t been conducted, according to city documents.

Bowmer on Wednesday told the Statesman that her medical bills were about $1 million and are expected to climb as she recovers.

The crash caused Bowmer to suffer two arterial hemorrhages in her head that nearly killed her, she said. She also broke her back, elbow, ankle, sternum and ribs, the suit said.

Bowmer said she hopes to recoup the cost of her medical bills, but also said she filed the suit in part to raise awareness about the dangers that could be lurking in parking garages.

“This should not have happened to me, should nor should it happen to anyone ever again,” Bowmer said. “It had already happened once (at the Littlefield Garage), so shame on them for not having the work done. They had their chance to fix it, and they didn’t do it. Now I’m going to live with these rods in my back for the rest of my life.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

UPDATE: Fire at downtown Hilton hotel now out, fire officials say
UPDATE: Fire at downtown Hilton hotel now out, fire officials say

7:45 p.m. update: The fire is now out, fire officials said. Earlier: Austin firefighters are responding to a two-alarm fire on the third floor of the Hilton Hotel in the 500 block of East Fourth Street, officials said Monday evening. The hotel is being partially evacuated, officials said. The fire reportedly started at a laundry room and is confined...
Police: Taylor man used Snapchat to try to blackmail girl into sex
Police: Taylor man used Snapchat to try to blackmail girl into sex

A Taylor man accused of demanding sex from a 15-year-old girl on Snapchat faces new charges because he also threatened to post nude pictures of another girl if she did not have sex with him, an affidavit said. Arthuro Medrano, 20 was charged Thursday with two counts of unlawful disclosure or promotion of visual material, a state jail felony punishable...
Trump inauguration day riot trial begins in Washington
Trump inauguration day riot trial begins in Washington

The long-awaited first trial of Inauguration Day protesters began Monday with six of the 200 indicted protesters in court, including Texas photojournalist Alexei Wood, charged with rioting and destroying property as President Donald Trump was sworn into office. San Antonio-based Wood, 37, is one of two journalists still being charged — the government...
Austin school district chooses buyers for high-profile properties
Austin school district chooses buyers for high-profile properties

Austin school leaders are moving forward with the sales of the district’s downtown headquarters, the Baker Center and the Millett Opera House (home of the Austin Club), among other surplus properties. The school board next Monday is scheduled to vote on the sales of these properties: • The Carruth Center, the 2.7-acre district headquarters...
Rally planned tonight at Austin City Hall for Transgender Day of Remembrance
Rally planned tonight at Austin City Hall for Transgender Day of Remembrance

A rally is planned tonight at Austin City Hall as part of the international Transgender Day of Remembrance. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of hate crimes committed against the transgender community. Austin’s event will begin at 7:30 p.m.   The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was...
More Stories