Artissua Lafaye Paulk Florida bridge tender accused of causing Carol Wright, 79 year old woman walking bike over Royal Park Bridge to fall to her death.
A Florida bridge tender has been accused of causing a 79 year old woman to fall to her death after opening a drawbridge as the unsuspecting woman was walking her bike across the bridge’s pedestrian lane last month.
Artissua Lafaye Paulk, 43, is charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence, according to the West Palm Beach Police Department.
Paulk was operating the Royal Park Bridge, which stretches from Lakeview Avenue in West Palm Beach and connects to the island of Palm Beach, when it opened as Carol Wright walked her bike across.
Wright, a former journalist and grandmother, was about 10 feet away from the end of the bridge when she fell through a gap in the road, WPTV reported at the time.
The Palm Beach Post reported the victim falling 50 to 60 feet to her death after attempting to hang onto the railing as the bridge span opened. The woman died on impact after landing on the span’s concrete footing.
What protocol was in place for bridge tenders?
A man with a skateboard who was on the fixed part of the span, just several feet away, tried to grab her, but couldn’t hold on.
Paulk told the Florida Department of Transportation in the hours after Wright died that she had checked the drawbridge multiple times before raising it, claiming she did not see the 79 year old woman as she crossed. It remained unclear what protocol was in place prior to draw bridge tenders opening bridges.
The woman’s family has since indicated that it would launch a lawsuit against Paulk’s employer, Florida Drawbridges Inc. following the results of a police investigation.
In a January email to a former colleague, Wright mentioned she had recovered from health issues she had suffered in 2021 and had started biking again.
‘I feel good, strong and am even back to my daily bike riding,’ she wrote.