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Woman in her 70s killed when her SUV plunges four stories off Sports Club/LA parking structure

A vehicle that drove off a parking structure in West Los Angeles rests on the sidewalk of Nebraska Avenue Tuesday morning. A woman in her 70s was killed Tuesday when the vehicle she was driving plunged off The Sports Club/LA parking structure in West L.A. and fell four stories before landing on its roof on the sidewalk.

Authorities described the 9:30 a.m. incident in the 11000 block of West Nebraska Avenue as a "tragic accident." The woman, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was not immediately identified.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but it appeared the woman's white Volkswagen struck a four-foot concrete slab that moved enough to create an opening for the vehicle to roll through.

The concrete barrier was still partially attached to the fourth story of the parking structure, which is five stories tall.

“We are aware that a fatal accident took place this morning in the parking garage of our West L.A. location," sports club officials said in a statement. "The police are currently investigating the incident, and we are doing everything possible to facilitate the investigation.”

It was not immediately known if the woman was leaving or going to the gym.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Cecil Manresa said city building and safety inspectors had been dispatched to the scene to examine damage to the structure.


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-- Al Seib in West L.A. and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: A vehicle that drove off a parking structure in West Los Angeles rests on the sidewalk of Nebraska Avenue Tuesday morning. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times


Comments () | Archives (49)

Remind me why we don't test the driving abilities of people over 65 again? Oh yeah, that's right...they're a huge voting bloc and they 'just don't wanna.'

Time to double the size of all of the concrete barriers to take into account the fact that many people now drive huge trucks instead of cars. The ironic thing is that many people buy these huge SUVs with the idea that they'll "win" when they get into an accident with another vehicle (i.e. the occupants of the other vehicle, should they be in a car, will get seriously injured or killed, while the SUV's occupants may escape relatively unharmed).

nice job of not reinforcing the external wall barriers. if properly built that wall would not have given way...... this is a lawyers dream lawsuit....

This means you can't trust any of those barriers found in multi-level car garages can prevent cars from accidentally going through them.

so sad... r.i.p.

This is horrific. My condolences to those affected.

From the picture, it looks the wall was not attached at the sides, but only at the bottom, and it pivoted out and down like a door on hinges. (Note that the paint on the moved section looks different - that's because you're looking at the inside surface of that section, not the outside. )

You can look at the wall for the level below and see that the sides don't go all the way and attach at the sides. You can also look at the deck on Google map's street view and see that none of these wall sections in that parking deck connect at the side. This may be a design defect as well as a construction defect. It is foreseeable that a car may run into a parking deck wall, so the wall should be designed to reasonably withstand such an impact. Note that I said "reasonably".

Could it be that she stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal? Seniors have been known to do that.

Sad. My father once had a stroke while sitting at a drive-through for coffee and lost control of the vehicle. I hope the woman did not suffer.

This is tragic but why is it all in passive voice, "woman in her 70s was killed Tuesday when the vehicle she was driving plunged..." Did she not drive it herself? Also, someone walking near the garage could have been killed because someone can't navigate a parking garage! I would argue that's a bit more tragic.

All drivers should be re-tested periodically and traffic regulations should be better enforced. We constantly see drivers who use lanes improperly, turn improperly, follow too closely, and fail to signal. However, those errors would not have caused this particular accident.

Probably the accident was caused by her hitting the accelerator instead of the brake. As those of us with manual transmissions know, that kind of accident would be much less likely to happen with a manual transmission since when driving below a walking speed, the driver's left foot would be on the clutch so hitting the accelerator would produce less dramatic results.

I've worked next door to this parking structure for about 17 years. This is the second time a car has been driven off of that structure that I know of, and they still haven't reinforced those half-walls.

That's sad. I'm sure she did not deserve it, and I hope her family deals well with the support of friends and family.
For all you archair lawyers who have and will comment as this is the forum to decide whose fault this was, the question is one of comparing the fault of the driver to the designers and builders of the parking structure. The answer to that question will decide whether the driver's insurance pays to repair the parking lot or the parking lot's insurance company pays for the driver's wrongful death and property damage.

From a moral standpoint, this is just sad. Those of you who turn this into an issue of licensing elderly drivers, an anti-SUV campaign, an anti cell-phone campaign should realize that you are uninformed and callous.

A good look at that wall barrier shows terrible construction. There were absolutely no rebars into the upright supports, no connections to them whatsoever. How is the barrier hanging down outside the building, like an open book cover?
To "disbelief" (I'm not afraid to use my own name) - Drivers over 65 on average are the safest drivers. It has nothing to do with how people vote.

This is tragic. I happened to park just below this car this morning (same exact spot where the car fell over) on the 2nd level. One thing that is important to note is that there is not much room between the wall and a large support beam (maybe about 20 feet) at that particular spot of the lot, so I'm guessing that she must have accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake when she was parking. She must have hit it pretty hard since there is not much room there to gain momentum. Very sad.

"Remind me why we don't test the driving abilities of people over 65 again? Oh yeah, that's right...they're a huge voting bloc and they 'just don't wanna."


they should test the driving abilities at every DL renewal just like in Europe.
I feel sorry for this old lady, but what if she would land on a 6 years old boy?

Get rid of the "bad' drivers. We need better screening, better driving abilities test.

It is sad for the family .. but still I think a glorious death for an old girl .. Out like a shot .. Her way .. Patsy Foster

"It was not immediately known if the woman was leaving or going to the gym.". From the photo, she appears to have left the gym.


So should we also raise the height of all curbs too to compensate for the out of control SUV's jumping curbs onto sidewalks? I say if you choose to drive something that curbs and rails can't stop, you do so at your own peril and liability.

This is very sad. People need to stop blaming the driver for being a senior citizen. I'm in my 30s and have had a momentary brain lapse and stepped on my gas instead of the brakes and been briefly confused. Of course, this happened in my driveway and not in a parking garage but still...accidents happen.
I'm glad no one else was hurt.

How the he!! does a "concrete slab" barrier wall slide down what looks like four or five feet??? Sue the garage construction firm.

well no wonder it was a VW

I would guess she hit that wall at a good rate of speed. There are parking bumpers on the ground which will stop a slow moving vehicle but that SUV must have hit the bumper and concrete railing w/full force.

From these comments, it's funny how everyone always assumes age is the primary factor. Sounds like age discrimination to me.


Reinforced concrete that falls when bumped by a car? Really?

We are just gonna have to outlaw cars. They just keep killing people.

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