WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. —
An investigation is underway in West Palm Beach into how and why a woman fell to her death while crossing a drawbridge that went up while she was walking across it.
Investigators said a woman, who has not been identified, was walking her bicycle in the pedestrian lane of the Royal Park Bridge connecting the Town of Palm Beach to West Palm Beach around 1 p.m.
Detectives said she was next to the eastbound lanes when the panels of the bridge started to go into the air.
At that point, investigators said she had to try to hold on to anything she could.
“There was a man who tried to help this woman as she was holding on to the elevated bridge, but unfortunately he was not able to rescue her,” said Mike Jachles, public information officer for the West Palm Beach Police Department. “Unfortunately and tragically, she fell, landing about 50 to 60 feet below, where the mechanical parts to the bridge are, and she died on impact.”
Jachles continued, “She had almost reached the end of the bridge, about 10 feet from the end, the bridge went up at some point and she tried to hold on and she couldn’t.”
West Palm Beach police detectives are currently reaching out to the woman’s family. The West Palm Beach Police Department is leading this investigation.
Some of the top questions from investigators right now are how this could have happened in the first place, and who is responsible.
Investigators said the Florida Department of Transportation contracts a company called Florida Drawbridge, Inc. to be the bridge tenders. Neither the Florida Department of Transportation nor Florida Drawbridge, Inc. have provided a comment.
“There are crossing arms,” Jachles said. “There are warning signs and there are safety procedures in place for the bridge tenders to follow, with multiple steps and multiple layers of checking to make sure that there are no cars or people on the bridge when it goes up. So that’s all part of the investigation, to determine whether procedure was followed or whether this woman crossed after the signals were down.”
The bridge was closed until just before 7 p.m.