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Valet Parking Attendant Disappears, Stranding Couple Downtown Overnight

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Ted and Rena Williams say they were stranded downtown early Sunday when their valet parking attendant vanished. (CBS)

Ted and Rena Williams say they were stranded downtown early Sunday when their valet parking attendant vanished. (CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) – It was their special night out in downtown Chicago, but then they were left stranded outside a parking garage in the cold without their car keys.

Now the city is investigating what happened to the valets, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

WVON’s 50th anniversary gala attracted hundreds of excited fans Saturday night. Among them were Ted and Rena Williams.

“We had a fantastic time at the event, but it was a disaster when we tried to get home,” Ted Williams says.

A disaster, according to him, because he and his wife were among the dozens of WVON fans who had parked at the garage at 60 East Randolph, handing their keys over to the attendant.

Ted Williams says he was told the valet service lasted until 3 a.m. But when he and dozens of others returned to the garage around 1:45 a.m., the gates were locked.

“They had our door keys, they had the keys to both cars,” Rena Williams says. “We were just really feeling vulnerable.”

A posted sign at the garage says it closes at midnight. Williams says he didn’t see the sign and insists the attendant said 3 a.m.

According to the city’s consumer protection commissioner, it doesn’t make a difference if Williams heard wrong.

“With a garage that takes your keys and has an attendant, they can’t go anywhere until they’ve returned all those keys to that customer, even if the consumer is wrong,” Rosemary Krimbel says.

By ordinance, if the garage is locked the owners have to leave a message telling the owners where they can find their keys, she says.

The Williamses say they didn’t see a sign; they were fortunately able to grab a ride home with a relative who happened to be downtown.

The owners of the garage did not return calls seeking comment.

Krimbel also has questions. If she determines the owners violated a city ordinance, then they could face a $2,000 to $10,000 fine for every customer that complains.

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