79-Year-Old Bicyclist Killed During a Drawbridge Accident in Palm Beach County
Authorities in Palm Beach County are currently working in conjunction with members of the local Department of Transportation in order to determine exactly why a drawbridge span that connects Palm Beach with the downtown area continued to open while a 79-year-old bicyclist was still trying to cross.
According to preliminary reports from the West Palm Beach Police Department, it was close to 1 p.m. when a yet-to-be-identified 79-year-old woman was walking across the Royal Park Bridge with her bicycle. As she approached the end of the bridge, roughly 10 feet from the barrier arms on the other side of the span, the retractable drawbridge began to open. Responding officers at the scene of the tragic accident indicated that a nearby witness attempted to grab the victim and pull her to safety, however, the 79-year-old woman was unable to hold on and she fell more than 50 feet onto the concrete below the bridge. She did not survive the fall and was declared dead at the scene.
“She was walking her bike from east to west and had almost reached the furthest point of the moveable span when it went up. He tried to help her but he wasn’t able to hold onto her and she fell about five to six stories below,” said police department spokesman Mike Jachles in a statement to the press.
The Royal Park Bridge was closed for almost 6 hours while detectives with the West Palm Beach Police Department and crime scene investigators tried to piece together the chain of events that led to the apparent malfunction of the drawspan and subsequent death of the 79-year-old woman. As with every bridge of this type in Florida, there are certain specific safety protocols that are put in place to prevent a falling accident of this nature, including the lowering and closure of the bridge’s gates for all pedestrians and vehicles, as well as multiple visual confirmations from the bridge’s operator that no one has crossed either of the spans or safety gates.
The investigation into this premises liability accident is still in its early stages, although further information is expected to be released to the public at the conclusion of this case.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.