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Around 1 p.m on February 6th, a woman fell to her death from the Royal Park Bridge in West Palm Beach, Florida, after the drawbridge started to rise before she made it to the other side.
The unidentified woman was walking her bike across the bridge and was 10 feet away from safety, when the drawbridge started to move, according to The Palm Beach Post.
“She was walking her bike from east to west and had almost reached the furthest point of the moveable span when it went up,” says West Palm Beach Police spokesman, Mike Jachles.
There was a man on the other side of the bridge, who grabbed her arm in an attempt to catch her but could not keep his hold.
“The woman tried to hang on. There was a bystander nearby who tried to help her, but tragically she fell five or six stories” Jachles said, according to NBC affiliate WPTV.
After the fall, the bridge was closed for about six hours, reopening at 7 p.m.
According to The Palm Beach Post, an investigation has opened to determine why the bridge started to rise when there were still pedestrians walking across.
Police say there was a bridge tender on duty during the time of the fall. The Palm Beach Post says the police described the bridge tender as “distraught.”
“That bridge tender has certain safety protocols to follow,” Jachles told WPTV. One protocol includes making sure there is no visual confirmation that anyone is on the bridge or past the gates before raising the bridge.
The bridge is commonly used by bicyclists, and bicycle safety advocate Juan Orellana says that one of the safety protocols involves ringing a bell.
“When you hear the bell you gotta get out of the way before the bridge goes up,” says Orellana.
According to the Post, the actions the bridge tender took before the bridge opened will be closely analyzed.