WEST PALM BEACH, Florida – A cyclist was killed when the drawbridge connecting Palm Beach to the Florida mainland began to rise before she could reach the other side. A passer-by tried to drag her to safety but lost his grip, officials said.
The woman was cycling towards West Palm Beach Sunday afternoon and was within 10 feet of a traffic barrier when the drawbridge began to move, police told news outlets.
“The woman tried to hold on. There was a passer-by nearby who tried to help her, but tragically she fell five or six floors below, where she died, landing on concrete,” West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jackles said.
The focus of the investigation will be why the bridge tender began to raise the span before it was cleared of pedestrians, Juckles said. According to the Palm Beach Post, the bridge tender was described as “distraught”.
The Florida Department of Transportation maintains the bridge, but the bridge is tendered by a private government contractor.
“Palm Beach is only accessible through three bridges and it’s the main bridge, so it’s very much used by cyclists,” bike safety advocate Juan Orellana told West Palm Beach’s WPTV.
The bridge is equipped with bells and whistles to alert drivers and pedestrians to the drawbridge being raised.
“Firstly, you will hear the bell before the hands go down, so when you hear the bell, you must 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.