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Are safety lapses to blame for West Palm Beach bridge death?

Bicyclist fell at least 50 feet from Royal Park Bridge, police say
West Palm Beach police respond to the Royal Park Bridge on Feb. 7, 2022.jpg
Posted at 2:30 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 00:00:36-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — West Palm Beach police detectives are working to determine if any safety lapses are to blame for the death of a bicyclist who fell at least 50 feet from the Royal Park Bridge on Sunday, officials said.

Police held a news conference Monday, saying they've been unable to identify the woman because she didn't have identification on her.

"She an older woman, possibly a West Palm Beach resident," West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles said.

Jachles said the woman was walking her bicycle from east to west on the sidewalk of the bridge — which connects the island of Palm Beach to West Palm Beach — when the bridge gates came down, an alarm sounded, and the bridge started to go up.

"The victim had almost completed traversing the bridge," Jachles said. "She was about 10 feet from that fixed portion."

As the bridge ascended, a man on a skateboard tried desperately to help the woman hang onto the bridge.

"Despite those efforts, the woman was not able to hold on and she fell to the concrete landing below to her death," Jachles said. "From where the victim was to where she landed was approximately five to six stories, or 50 to 60 feet."

Detectives are now looking at whether there were any lapses in safety procedures by the bridge tender.

Jachles said there is a specific set of practices the bridge tender is supposed to follow prior to engaging the bridge and raising the deck. Those include the tender physically coming out onto the catwalk, walking around and doing a visual inspection to make sure there are no cars or people inside of the gates.

"Detectives are looking at whether all of the safety practices were followed," Jachles said. "There are a lot of questions, but we hope to have some answers to them."

Police have interviewed the bridge tender, along with other witnesses who were in their cars when the tragedy happened.

If you have any information about who the bicyclist is, call the West Palm Beach Police Department at 561-822-1900.