Conflicting reports surround a fender bender that happened in the M-2 parking deck on Thursday morning.
Accounts of the weather conditions varied from an inch of ice, to light frost on the parking deck, when a car ascending the third-floor ramp came to a stop in front of Zack Lord, causing Lord to brake suddenly on the incline. The ramp’s slick conditions made it impossible for Lord to drive any farther.
“The cars in front of me moved, and I was able to attempt to try to drive back up the ramp,” Lord said. “I skid in place with my tires spinning and then slid back into the car behind me.”
Damage to both vehicles was insignificant. Lord said that he and the other driver called parking services from the parking attendant’s kiosk facing DeBartolo Hall.
Instead of discussing the accident, Lord was adamant about what he considered poor maintenance in wintry conditions.
“There was no damage sustained from the fender bender, but both students were very upset about the lack of salt put down and wanted to speak with someone from parking regarding the matter,” according to a Youngstown State University Police report.
University police officer Deana Bryant arrived at the deck and filed the complaint on the deck’s conditions. Bryant said that drivers in an accident are culpable and that the university cannot be held liable for poor weather conditions.
Though all sides agreed on the events leading to the accident, the causes became Lord’s focus.
Lord, creator of the Facebook page Things Overheard at YSU, posted a statement informing its followers of the situation.
In the post, Lord said that someone from parking services told him, “The parking decks are not checked in the morning to see if they need to be cleaned or salted. They will only be checked if there is a complaint filed.”
He also said parking services told him that if an accident occurs due to ice, it is deemed the driver’s fault and parking services will not do anything but salt the deck after the fact.
Danny O’Connell, YSU’s director of support services, said employees of the grounds department salted the deck that morning around 6 a.m, and that the slippery incline was due to frost.
“A Facebook post said that grounds didn’t do their job, but they really did,” O’Connell said. “It’s unfortunate because grounds does such a good job, and people didn’t realize it was salted.”
O’Connell said grounds is typically on campus to check the ramps and plow the streets during the winter before any students arrive. He said the areas surrounding campus are their main focus.
Lord said he hasn’t noticed the effort.
“I’m looking for YSU to come up with a new strategy for handling the decks,” Lord said. “I just want a safer environment, and I feel like YSU is really making safety a secondary priority when it should always be the first.
“I feel like parking services should be more proactive about the situations on the decks and try to do something about the decks so things like this don’t happen again.”
Lord added that the parking services employee who met with them was far from helpful.
“He pulled up, put down his window and yelled out to us, ‘What the hell do you want us to do about it? We’re not going to do shit for either of you. Call the police or talk to grounds, and they’re not going to do shit either,'” Lord said.
O’Connell could not confirm the name of the employee, or confirm what was said, but said that both men involved in the accident shared a similar story.
“That’s just something we can’t accept from our employees if this does end up being the case,” O’Connell said. “That’s unacceptable, and we are taking it very seriously.”
Parking services is in the process of investigating the situation, and the men involved in the accident have scheduled a meeting to make a statement.
As the weather conditions worsen at YSU, O’Connell said he is addressing potential safety issues by enlisting a deck consultant who assessed the safety of the ramps on Monday afternoon.
O’Connell added that most accidents occur “because people stop and the next car is too close.”
He encourages students who use the decks to drive cautiously.
“They should be going about 5 miles per hour,” O’Connell said. “Slow driving up a hill in those weather conditions helps.”
“YSU students [need] to know that anything that happens in the deck is their fault,” Lord said, in response to his experience. “If they don’t salt the deck and you get into an accident, it is your fault.”
“Although it’s an unfortunate situation that happened, if you’re in an accident, it is your responsibility,” O’Connell said.