The sign said "Shuttle arrives every 4 minutes 24 hours a day 7 days a week."
Bobette Swenson noticed that sign when a shuttle bus dropped her off near her car in the long-term parking lot at the Salt Lake International Airport in the early evening of Nov. 6, 1989.But from the time the bus dropped Swenson off that night to the time she drove away from the airport - after being beaten and raped by a man hiding in the lot - Swenson didn't see another shuttle bus. She didn't see any security cars or security officers.
It took the quick arc of headlights from a car leaving the airport to scare off Swenson's attacker.
(Swenson was willing to talk publicly about the incident in hopes that it will lead to changes in security at the airport.)
Swenson got off the shuttle bus about 7:15 that night after flying in from San Diego. She was the last person on the shuttle, and when it drove away, she stood alone in the dark lot. "I stopped a few feet from the shuttle bus area to get my keys out of my purse," she said.
"I started walking toward my car and I heard a noise between two cars. I thought it was a dog, and I turned to look.
"A man jumped up from between the cars. He hit me on the left side of my face, knocking me down.
"He dragged me so that I was lying a little bit between the cars. Then he raped me."
After the headlights of the passing car frightened her assailant off, Swenson gathered her things and ran to her car. She sat in the car for several minutes, trying to calm down. Then she drove home.
When she went into work the next morning, her boss was appalled by her black eye and the cuts on her face.
When he learned that Swenson had been assaulted in the long-term parking lot, he called the airport to report the incident.
During the first moments of his call, airport officials mistook him for a man who had been beaten in the lot a few days earlier. They assumed Swenson's boss was referring to the earlier attack and began discussing the details of it with him.
Swenson later queried a Salt Lake Police detective about the earlier assault and learned that both attacks had taken place early in the evening.
That's when Swenson decided to sue the airport for not providing security in its long-term parking lots. Swenson filed suit December 1989 in 3rd District Court. Her suit alleged that Beehive Parking and the Salt Lake International Airport owed her safety and protection and failed to provide it. She seeks $1.5 million. No trial date has been set.
Salt Lake City Attorney Roger Cutler said that as far as he knows, this is the first time the city or any of its properties have been sued over a rape in the 17 years Cutler as worked for the city.
Swenson is suing because she believes the crime rate in airport parking lots - nearly 200 burglaries a year along with scattered felony assaults - warrants more security in the lots.
"The Airport Authority owed Swenson a duty of reasonable care to provide adequate security designed to prevent assault against her," the suit said. Because of prior assaults and other criminal incidents in the parking lot, airport officials should have foreseen that an assault like the one on Swenson would probably occur and should have done something to prevent it, the suit said.
"People need to know that there is no security out there," Swenson said. "Hopefully, filing this suit will make the airport provide security. People should be able to go to their cars safely."