Florida cyclist falls 50 ft to her death when West Palm Beach drawbridge rising along Royal Park Bridge. Investigators seek to determine cause of death and fault.
How and why? And who is responsible? A female cyclist fell more than five stories to her death upon a drawbridge in West Palm Beach opening up as the woman was walking her bike across it Sunday afternoon.
Authorities who declined to release the victim’s name and age said the woman was walking her bike across Royal Park Bridge in the pedestrian lane when the bridge started going up, according to WPTV.
The un-named woman was about 10 feet from the end of the bridge and plunged some 50 feet through a gap in the road whereupon she landed on concrete, and dying on impact, police said.
Of note the Royal Park Bridge connects automobiles and pedestrians from West Palm Beach to Palm Beach.
‘The woman tried to hang on. There was a bystander nearby who tried to help her, but tragically she fell five or six stories below where she died landing on concrete,’ West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles told WPTV. ‘There is a bridge tender, and that bridge tender has certain safety protocols to follow, specific safety protocols … that includes lowering of the gates for the vehicles, lowering of the gates for the pedestrians, and making several visual confirmations that there is nobody at either of the spans or past those gates.’
Did victim ignore warning signals?
A man standing nearby grabbed her as she fell but could not sustain his grip, police told The Palm Beach Post.
The bridge was closed for nearly six hours on Sunday afternoon as the police investigated the scene to determine how the bridge rose before it was cleared of pedestrians.
Authorities also planned to examine surveillance video of the incident. The bridge reopened to traffic at 7 p.m., according to a Facebook post by the police.
Local bicycle safety advocate Juan Orellana told WPTV that the bridge is equipped with bells that go off before a gate is lowered to stop traffic ahead of the the drawbridge raising.
The bridge tender was described as ‘distraught’ by the police after officers arrived on the scene, according to The Palm Beach Post. That person’s actions before the bridge opened are being investigated, police said. It remained unclear if the victim ignored warnings and had proceeded to make her way across the bridge.
The drawbridge is maintained by the state’s Department of Transportation, but a private state contractor employs the bridge’s tenders. Police have yet to say who bears responsibility for the cyclist’s death. The private contractor has since been identified as Florida Drawbridge. Authorities continue to investigate.