Royal Park Bridge links Palm Beach and the Florida mainland

WEST PALM BEACH (Fla.) — A drawbridge linking Palm Beach and the Florida mainland started rising before a bicyclist could cross it. Officials said that a bystander attempted to pull her to safety, but lost his grip.

Police told news outlets that the woman was cycling her bike towards West Palm Beach Sunday afternoon. She was only 10 feet (3 m) from the barrier arms that stop traffic when the drawbridge starts to move.

“The woman tried hanging on. “She tried to hang on, but a nearby witness tried to help her. But tragically, she fell five to six stories below the concrete floor where she was killed,” Mike Jachles, spokesperson for West Palm Beach police said.

Jachles stated that the probe will focus on the question of why the bridge tender raised the span before pedestrians were allowed to cross it. According to the Palm Beach Post, the bridge tender was “distraught”.

The Florida Department of Transportation manages the bridge. However, the tenders for the bridge are managed by a private contractor.

Juan Orellana, a bicycle safety advocate and West Palm Beach television station WPTV stated that Palm Beach can only be accessed through three bridges. “Palm Beach can only be reached by this bridge so it’s very popular with cyclists.”

To alert pedestrians and drivers that the bridge is being raised, the bridge has bells and whistles.

He said, “For one, you will hear the bell prior to the arms go down. So when you hear it you need to get out of the bridge before it goes up.”
The name of the woman has not been revealed. After the accident, the bridge was shut down for six hours.