A trip to the top of the Tower of the Americas can leave you breathless. So it went for one San Antonio woman who became panicked when told there was no elevator down from the observation deck.
Christina Santos celebrated her 37th birthday earlier this month with dinner at the restaurant in the tower. Her family then went to the observation deck. When they wanted to leave, she said they were told there was no elevator available.
"There was so many people up there and we've already been up there for about 30 (or) 45 minutes and we asked to come down," Santos said. "It's claustrophobic. There was tons of people in there just all on top of each other."
She said she even asked to use the stairs but was denied. "It was horrifying,” Santos said. “It was an hour and a half of being up there and ready to come down and not being able to."
The property manager, Carlton Quick, said there was a wind event earlier that evening and the elevators were shut down. He said that caused a backup of people wanting to come down from the tower and that people in the restaurant are given priority.
He did not clarify, however, why observation deck visitors have to wait while restaurant patrons get to ride.
The KSAT Defenders made several calls to get an explanation but messages were not returned. At the tower, an employee said Quick was in a meeting.
Other visitors agreed, meanwhile, that people should be warned that restaurant patrons get preferential treatment when it comes to elevators.
"They usually have signage that says that sort of thing," said Annette Ryan, a visitor from Australia.
Corpus Christi’s Neatha Simons was also visiting that day. "I would want to know if there's going to be a delay," Simons said.
The city of San Antonio issued this statement in response to the Defenders' investigation:
“Landry’s does an excellent job of maintaining a great restaurant at the Tower of the America on a day-to-day basis," said City of San Antonio Interim Director of Downtown Operations Jim Mery. "The city manages the Tower/Landry agreement; not its daily operations.”
Carlton Quick, general manager of Tower of the Americas, issued this statement Monday evening:
“The safety of our guests is our main concern. If wind gusts reach more than 20 mph, as a precautionary measure, we cease elevator operation until the wind subsides. We apologize for any delays patrons may have experienced; our intention was only to keep our guests safe.
"As a courtesy to Chart House guests, we do offer priority access to the restaurant, as those guests are simply trying to get to their dining reservations. We value all of our patrons and want to ensure they have a first-rate experience at The Tower of the Americas.”