Bicyclist Falls Through Opening Florida Drawbridge, Dies After Man Trying to Save Her Loses His Grip: Police

After fatality Florida's Royal Park Bridge was reopened at 7 p.m. on Sunday night
West Palm Beach Police Department

A bystander tried to pull the woman to safety but lost his grip, officials said.

A woman walking her bicycle across a Florida drawbridge was killed in a freak accident when a section of the bridge she was on suddenly opened, causing her to fall through the gap, police said. A man on the other side of the barrier was able to grab the woman as she fell, but could not sustain his grip. She plummeted more than 50 feet, police said.

The tragic incident happened on Sunday when the woman, whose name has not been released, was walking along the Royal Park Bridge at Intracoastal Waterway, a drawbridge that connects the Florida mainland to Palm Beach, West Palm Beach Police said in a statement.

The woman was within 10 feet of the barrier arms that halt traffic when the drawbridge started to rise, police told news outlets, The Associated Press reported.

West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles told CBS Miami that “the woman tried to hang on," before the tragic fall. 

“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,” Jachles said. 

An investigation is underway as "to why the bridge tender began to rise the span before it was cleared of pedestrians," the spokesperson said. 

The Florida Department of Transportation said the bridge and the bridge tenders are staffed by a private state contractor, a report said. 

After the incident, the bridge tender was described as “distraught,” when rescuers and officers were on the scene, The Palm Beach Post reported. 

Bicycle safety advocate Juan Orellana told West Palm Beach television station WPTV that Palm Beach is accessible only through three bridges. He explained that the Royal Park Bridge is considered the main bridge, and is used daily by many cyclists, CBS News reported

The bridge is equipped with bells and whistles to alert drivers and pedestrians that the drawbridge is rising, the news outlet reported.

Orellana noted that "when you hear the bell, you got to get out of the way before the bridge goes up." 

The bridge was closed shortly after 2 p.m. and traffic was rerouted from West Palm Beach into Palm Beach. The bridge was reopened around 7 p.m., police said. 

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