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Family of woman who fell to her death from Royal Park Bridge sues bridge tender, Florida Drawbridges Inc.

Lawsuit seeks monetary damages, industry safety changes
Death on Royal Park Bridge, Feb. 6
Posted at 11:57 AM, Mar 28, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The family of a 79-year-old woman who fell to her death while attempting to cross the Royal Park Bridge is suing the bridge tender and the company that manages the bridge.

According to a lawsuit filed Monday in Palm Beach County court, the family of Carol Wright is seeking monetary damages and "to enact change to preclude this preventable tragedy from occurring in the future."

WATCH: Lawyer announces lawsuit in drawbridge death

Lawyer announces lawsuit in West Palm Beach drawbridge death

Wright fell about 40 feet to her death last month as the drawbridge span opened while was walking across it with her bicycle.

Photo of Carol Wright, who fell to her death off Royal Park Bridge in West Park Beach
A poster board shows an enlarged photograph of Carol Wright, 79, who fell to her death off the Royal Park Bridge in West Park Beach on Feb. 6, 2022.

West Palm Beach police arrested the bridge tender, identified as Artissua Paulk, on a manslaughter charge.

Police claim surveillance video contradicts her statement that she walked out onto the balcony of the bridge tender's booth to check for vehicles and pedestrians before opening it.

Artissua Lafay Paulk, bridge tender arrested, first court appearance, March 18, 2022
Artissua Lafay Paulk was in a West Palm Beach court on March 18, 2022, after her arrest on a charge of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

"Bridges are always covered in pedestrians especially in Palm Beach County, and for them to have gotten away with just one death, I considered them lucky," Wright's niece, Jill Sanchez, said during a Monday morning news conference. "There could have been four of five people on that bridge at the same time. We're not lucky. We have a huge loss."

Mike Piscitelli, a lawyer representing Florida Drawbridges Inc., which operates the bridge that connects West Palm Beach to Palm Beach, provided WPTV with a statement on behalf of the company.

"Today, Florida Drawbridges Inc. received the complaint filed on behalf of Carol Wright and is reviewing the allegations. Ms. Wright's death was tragic; however, the company performs over 25,000 openings a month and has the appropriate safe operating procedures in place.

In relation to employment issues, the company uses multiple platforms to identify candidates for employment. All candidates are individually interviewed, E-verified and must past a drug test and job specific physical. All tenders must past a written test, bridge specific operating test and requalify annually. All tenders have a dedicated area specific supervisor for quality assurance."

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