Pedestrians struck by parking gate arms at Santa Rosa Plaza garages

  • Vehicles enter the Santa Rosa Plaza parking mall, at the north end of Macy's, on Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Three pedestrians have claimed to be hit by the mechanical arm while walking underneath. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The new mechanical gates outside the parking garages at Santa Rosa Plaza are not just giving headaches to motorists.

At least three pedestrians have been struck on the head by the automated barricades while walking in or out of the garages at the downtown Santa Rosa mall over the last four weeks.

Two of them said the arms were raised and out of view when they walked past the gates, which were installed at several entrances and exits to the garages two months ago when the mall began to charge for parking.

Both said they had no warning before the mechanical arms dropped on their skulls as they walked in driveways that were commonly used by both cars and pedestrians before the mall's new parking policy.

At first, neither even realized what had happened when the pain began. A third was unavailable for comment.

"I never sensed it, even when it was getting close to me," said Santa Rosa resident Brenda Russell, who was walking and talking with her two children when the hinged arm struck her forehead outside Macy's on Sept. 14.

Petaluma resident Pat Goddard Sirna, who was struck on the crown of her head and knocked to the ground Monday evening, was still in pain and suffering waves of dizziness two days later.

Sirna, a registered nurse, said bystanders helped her get back on her feet until security personnel arrived. The security people told her there had been several similar incidents previously, though it was unclear how many.

A third woman was struck in the head by a mall parking arm on Sept. 22 and taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, according to Santa Rosa Fire Department records. Her physician, Dr. James Trapnell, said she is still being seen for neck issues related to the injury.

Mall officials declined to answer questions about the number and severity of accidents involving the mechanized arms. Security personnel and a representative with AmeriPark, which operates the parking structure, also declined comment.

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