Cyclist falls to death from Florida drawbridge
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A cyclist died when a drawbridge connecting Palm Beach to mainland Florida began to rise before she could reach the other side. A passerby tried to pull her to safety but lost his grip, officials said.
The woman was cycling toward West Palm Beach on Sunday afternoon and was within 10 feet of the barrier arms stopping traffic when the drawbridge began to move, police told media.
“The woman tried to hang on. There was a bystander nearby who tried to help her, but tragically she fell five or six stories down where she died landing on concrete,” the West Palm police spokesperson said. Beach, Mike Jachles.
Why the bridge tender began raising the span before it was clear of pedestrians will be the focus of the investigation, Jachles said. The bridge operator was described as “distraught”, reported the Palm Beach Post.
The Florida Department of Transportation maintains the bridge, but tenders for the bridge are outsourced to a private state contractor.
“Palm Beach is only accessible by three bridges and that’s the main bridge, so it’s heavily used by cyclists,” bike safety advocate Juan Orellana told West Palm TV station WPTV. Beach.
The bridge is equipped with bells and whistles to alert drivers and pedestrians that the drawbridge is rising.
“For one thing, you’ll hear the bell before the arms go down, so when you hear the bell you have to get out of the way before the bridge goes up,” he said.
The woman’s name has not been released. The bridge was closed for more than six hours after the accident.