(CBS) — A roof collapses at a parking facility near O’Hare International Airport, and cars belonging to airline travelers are crushed.
It has happened at the location before, and now authorities are taking action to protect future customers from any harm.
“The whole thing has been a nightmare,” says Laurie Rovell, who had to buy another vehicle after her Lexus SUV was damaged in the Avistar parking garage at 3700 North Mannheim Road.
Rovell says she paid extra to store her car inside the parking facility, which also offers an outdoor lot at the same location. She says she was concerned to hear this was at least the second roof collapse at the structure since 2010.
According to Franklin Park village officials, the first collapse occurred after a motorist bumped into a support beam. The most recent collapse occurred in February 2015 after snow and ice accumulated on the roof.
Rovell’s vehicle was one of 20 cars in the damaged portion of the building.
“They took my ticket and said we’re really sorry but the roof collapsed and your car was crushed,” Rovell says. “It looked as though a bomb went through the ceiling.”
The 2 Investigators visited the facility two times in March and found the roof is still damaged with temporary shoring and caution tape spanning sections of the parking lot.
Franklin Park Building Department officials say they told the business they can only use the outside portion of the lot and they must stop parking cars inside or allowing customers to walk under the roof. The garage’s own engineer report stated the structure is only “temporarily stabilized.”
Despite a warning from engineers, CBS 2 observed operators repeatedly taking cars and parking them in the inside portion of the lot, and travelers dropping off their cars were still walking under the roof.
No one on-site at the facility would comment when asked why they were allowing cars to be parked inside during the repair phase of the building’s roof.
“They’re putting people in harm’s way and you can be certain that citations will be issued,” says Franklin Park Mayor Barrett Pedersen.
Pedersen and the village took action when CBS 2 informed the village of the continued use of the indoor parking portion of the facility.
“You know, you have to watch out for these types of businesses. Sometimes profit motive is more important than safety, and that’s not good,” the mayor says.
Rovell is still negotiating with the garage’s insurance carrier about the fair replacement price of her damaged SUV.
The Village of Franklin Park issued the new owners of the property, “L and R Auto Park,” with a citation on March 26 for unsafe conditions, alleging vehicles were parked in an unsafe structure that was dangerous to public welfare.
A company spokesperson says they just bought the structure a few days before the recent collapse and that they don’t want to put anyone at risk.
“Three different engineering firms in Illinois have reviewed the structural integrity of the roof at Avistar in Franklin Park. They have advised that once the short-term remediation and shoring was accomplished following the roof collapse in February the parking structure could be used again without concern for the structural integrity of the remaining portion of the roof,” Avistar Parking Chief Marketing officer David Dix said in a written statement.
“At no time have we ever, nor would we ever, put our customers or employees safety in jeopardy as a result of the use of the garage as evidenced by these reports. We have provided those reports to the Village of Franklin Park and we will continue to work closely with Mayor and Village to keep the facility open and operating in a safe and secure manner while we work on long-term plans with our insurance carrier to replace or repair the structure.
“While we believe the entire structure is safe and secure any miscommunication or misunderstanding on what portion of the building the Village is comfortable in allowing us to use is our responsibility and the garage is not being used at all until the Village is comfortable with our plans moving forward.”