FOX 7 Investigation: Parking garage where drivers broke through barricades not up to city code

UPDATE: The Austin Code Department told FOX 7 they would provide a response on why an officer signed off on repairs after the 2016 crash after they saw our investigation, but Wednesday afternoon they sent us an email saying they “will not be providing a statement.” 



FOX 7 has obtained documents from the City of Austin that show the Littlefield parking garage was not up to code when two people accidentally drove their cars over the edge.

One of those drivers has since filed a lawsuit against the garage owner and managers.
Last month, Christie Bowmer explained her experience to FOX 7 after she plummeted seven stories in her BMW coup.

READ: Woman who drove off Austin parking garage sues garage owner

“I just saw myself go straight down and then, I mean, I hit the gas line I guess on the way down on the other building, which is not very far apart. And then I went straight down and crashed and I was awake the whole time. And it was the most horrific, horrific thing that I have ever been through,” said Bowmer. 

Christie admits she hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, as did the driver who drove off the 9th floor 10 months prior to her.

READ: Woman plummets five stories from downtown parking garage
Bowmer said her crash could've been prevented if the garage owner updated the cable barricade system after the first crash.

“I mean, just like a car manufacturer puts in a seat belt because you know that there's a possibility of a crash, they have the same responsibility and yet they did nothing,” Bowmer said. 

City documents obtained by FOX 7 show a building official with the City of Austin Development Services Department inspected the garage after Bowmer's crash in July.
During his visit he found the cable system was not even in compliance with requirements from 1976, three years before the garage was built.

Back then the cables were supposed to be no more than nine inches apart, but the city official found cables at the Littlefield garage were 11 inches apart in some places.

Other areas of the garage had loose or disconnected cables according to the report. Another issue, the repairs completed after the first crash in 2016 was not permitted by the city. Instead, the official said an engineer signed off on the repairs and a code officer closed the case.

The city's building official said that should not have happened and he's making sure this time around all repairs are permitted and meet city requirements.

In the meantime, the city has required the garage owner to install water barricades as a safety precaution. Metal grates also cover some areas of the structure.

The city will require an engineer to demonstrate that the new system can resist a 6,000 lb. load, as required by the city's 2012 code, before signing off on the new repairs