On Thursday July 17th, Austin PD reported a woman accidentally drove her car off the Littlefield downtown parking garage’s seventh floor, which is located on Brazos Street between Fifth and Sixth. The driver described mistaking her car’s gas pedal for the brakes when her BMW convertible fell onto another vehicle and ruptured a gas line after it fell from the garage.

This is the second time in less than a year that an incident like this has occurred at this exact parking garage. The Littlefield property garage had previously been issued a safety violation back on September 14, 2016 by the Austin Code Department. The violation cited unsafe conditions, making specific note of unsafe barrier cable systems. The official department statement maintains that after the violation was issued a structural engineer reviewed the situation. Repairs were recommended which were then apparently inspected by the city of Austin. It seems, here, Littlefield was aware of these unreasonably dangerous conditions. Landowners in Texas generally owe their invitees the “duty to make safe or warn against any concealed, unreasonably dangerous conditions of which the landowner is, or reasonably should be, aware but the invitee is not.” See Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P., No. 14-0216 (Tex. June 12, 2015) .

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An individual who witnessed Thursday’s crash stated that he was parking in a nearby alley on his way to work an area construction project when he suddenly heard the crash. The witness began driving forward when the falling BMW landed on his vehicle’s backside.  But for pulling forward at that moment, the witness may not have had an opportunity to recall his experience. The witness said he was on the phone talking to his mother when the crash took place and is just grateful that he’s OK.

The BMW driver has not been identified by officials, and is said to have suffered serious, yet non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the incident. She is also reported to have been alert when she was taken away from the scene via an ambulance.

The mix-up is not at all uncommon and usually happens in confined spaces. When a driver is using the brake pedal to govern the vehicle speed in a parking lot, traffic jam, drive-thru or any other place where an idle speed will be sufficient to complete the chosen maneuver, there is always the potential for a pedal mix-up. Drivers will often feel the sensation of movement when manipulating the brake pedal. Typical reasoning is as follows: ‘If the pedal I am using is making the car go forward, then the other pedal must make it stop.’ When a driver is startled and/or the vehicle has been recently started, a strong idle will often vault the vehicle forward and create an intended propulsion illusion. The natural thing to do seems to slam a foot on the other pedal, i.e., in these particular circumstances: the gas pedal.

We are not sure, as of yet, what type of attorney will be needed for this kind of story but here at Erskine Law in Austin we are available for many cases ranging from personal injury, jail release, DWI, and drug charges.