Get Gephardt: Draper woman says getting trapped in a downtown parking garage was a risky situation

Feb 28, 2023, 11:14 PM | Updated: 11:55 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Alexa Ferguson and her mom found themselves stuck when they hit heavy traffic in a parking garage. That’s right inside the garage.

She said it happened after catching a movie at The Gateway during the holidays.

“We were sitting, just hoping to get out,” Ferguson explained. “We were met with a long line of cars that were pretty much bottlenecked.”

She said they were trapped in that line for over an hour.

“That line did not move at all,” Ferguson recalled.

Word eventually reached her that a parking gate had broken down, but being stuck bumper-to-bumper, getting to another gate was not an option. Adding to the chaos: the garage was unmanned, and she said mall security was not exactly helpful.

“They said that they had nothing to do with the gates,” Ferguson said.

Eventually, she got out, but she believes a safety issue remains.

“You just don’t know what’s going to happen in that situation,” Ferguson said. “There are so many people pulling out at the same time. There could have been accidents happening.”

When she didn’t get a response from the mall about her concerns, so she contacted Get Gephart.

As we began digging, we found Utah courts have said businesses have what is called a “duty of care” to do a reasonable job of maintaining safety for visitors, or to warn of risks.

So, on her behalf, we contacted the Gateway’s owner, Vestar. In a statement, they told us their parking garages are usually fully staffed: “But employees had the day off in observance of the Christmas holiday. There are intercoms at each gate, and those have human attendees 24-7. At no time was any risk posed to those waiting to exit.”

Ferguson disagrees. With cars not budging at all, she said she and other drivers around here began to fear the worst. Some even began to panic.

“A lot of people were upset,” she said. “It was such a strange and scary situation to be in.”

There are also financial concerns when you get stuck in a parking garage for hours since many charge by the hour. Ferguson said she did not end up having to pay more because she had a parking validation from the movie theater.

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Get Gephardt: Draper woman says getting trapped in a downtown parking garage was a risky situation