Police in Florida are investigating after a woman fell about five stories to her death when a drawbridge opened as she was walking her bike across it on Sunday afternoon.
West Palm Beach police said Sunday that the woman, whose name and age were not released, was walking her bike across Royal Park Bridge, which connects West Palm Beach to Palm Beach, when the bridge started going up, according to NBC affiliate WPTV.
She was about 10 feet from the end of the bridge and fell some 50 feet through a gap in the road, police said. She landed on concrete.
“The woman tried to hang on. 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,” West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles told WPTV. “There is a bridge tender, and that bridge tender has certain safety protocols to follow, specific safety protocols ... that includes lowering of the gates for the vehicles, lowering of the gates for the pedestrians, and making several visual confirmations that there is nobody at either of the spans or past those gates.”
A man standing nearby grabbed her as she fell but could not sustain his grip, police told The Palm Beach Post.
The bridge was closed for nearly six hours on Sunday afternoon as the police investigated the scene to determine how the bridge rose before it was cleared of pedestrians.
They also planned to examine surveillance video of the incident. The bridge reopened to traffic at 7 p.m., according to a Facebook post by the police.
Local bicycle safety advocate Juan Orellana told WPTV that the bridge is equipped with bells that go off before a gate is lowered to stop traffic ahead of the the drawbridge raising.
The bridge tender was described as "distraught" by the police after officers arrived on the scene, according to The Palm Beach Post. That person's actions before the bridge opened are being investigated, police said.