WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — An investigation is underway in West Palm Beach, Florida after a bicyclist fell to her death while on an opening draw bridge that connects the city to Palm Beach.
West Palm Beach police said Sunday that an older woman, whose name has not been released, was walking her bike across the Royal Park Bridge when it started going up.
She was just 10 feet away from the end of the bridge when she fell to her death through a gap in the road, authorities said.
"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," said West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles.
"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."
The Royal Park Bridge was closed for nearly six hours and is equipped with barriers and bells alerting people when the bridge is going up.
While police look into what went wrong, bicycle safety advocates like Juan Orellana said the Royal Park Bridge is highly trafficked.
"Palm Beach is accessible only through three bridges and this is the main bridge, so it's very used by cyclists," Orellana said. "For one thing you will hear the bell before the arms go down, so when you hear the bell you gotta get out of the way before the bridge goes up," Orellana said.
"Always drive defensively, always be aware of your surroundings, see what's going on, because it's our life that we're playing with sometimes," he said.
Palm Beach police will study surveillance video as their investigation continues and local safety advocates are urging residents and tourists to be alert and aware when on roadways and bridges.
This story was originally published by Joel Lopez of WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida.