Florida bridgetender faces manslaughter in girl's demise

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida bridgetender accused of elevating a drawbridge to Palm Seaside earlier than a 79-year-old girl strolling her bicycle reached the opposite facet appeared in court docket for the primary time Friday on a cost of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

West Palm Seaside police and the U.S. Marshals arrested Artissua Lafaye Paulk, 43, at her dwelling in Greenacres on Thursday, police mentioned in a information launch.

Paulk opened the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway on Feb. 6 because the bicycle owner walked throughout, the police mentioned. The West Palm Seaside girl, recognized by her household’s legal professional as Carol Wright, virtually made it, slipping from the grasp of a bystander who tried to tug her to security earlier than plunging to her demise.

The Florida Division of Transportation mentioned in its report launched Thursday that the bridgetender mentioned she checked a number of occasions and didn’t see Wright earlier than opening the span that afternoon.







The Royal Park Bridge is closed to all site visitors Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022 as West Palm Seaside police and hearth rescue work on the scene in West Palm Seaside, Fla., after a bicyclist fell to her demise when a drawbridge connecting Palm Seaside to the Florida mainland started rising earlier than she may attain the opposite facet. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Seaside Publish by way of AP)




The FDOT report mentioned Paulk informed investigators that she walked out on the balcony earlier than and after turning on the crimson lights and reducing gates to cease site visitors, made two bulletins on loudspeakers, and finally stepped outdoors 3 times to ensure nobody was on the bridge, the Palm Seaside Publish reported.

WPBF reported that court docket paperwork present that Paulk lied to investigators concerning the steps she took earlier than lifting the bridge at 1:01 p.m., and so they element deleted textual content messages she exchanged with somebody recognized as a supervisor.

3:20 p.m. from supervisor: “Once they discuss to you make (expletive) positive you inform them you walked outdoors on balcony 3 diff occasions to ensure nobody was previous gates n delete this msg after one time to ensure card (sic) cease 2nd time after gates lowered and third time earlier than you raised spans (sic) okay now delete this I do know ur upset however u gotta inform them step-by-step how u do opening”

3:21 p.m. to supervisor: “I did”

3:59 p.m. from supervisor: “You need to write out step-by-step what you probably did okay up until time you have been informed somebody fell”

Surveillance video will present that the bridgetender’s account is fake, in response to legal professional Lance C. Ivey, representing the useless girl’s household.

“I consider that after we get the video proof of this incident, it’s going to reveal unequivocally that the bridge tender’s assertion does not align with the true information,” Ivey informed WPTV.







Bicyclist Bridge Death

The Royal Park Bridge is closed to all site visitors Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, as West Palm Seaside police and hearth rescue work on the scene in West Palm Seaside, Fla. A bicyclist fell to her demise when a drawbridge connecting Palm Seaside to the Florida mainland started rising earlier than she may attain the opposite facet. A bystander tried to tug her to security however misplaced his grip, officers mentioned. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Seaside Publish by way of AP)




Paulk was interviewed by detectives once more on Thursday after being taken to police headquarters. She was then taken to jail, the place she was booked on one rely of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

The police assertion mentioned investigators searched the bridgetender’s cellphone and decided she had not been utilizing it on the time of the incident.

The particular person recognized within the court docket paperwork as Paulk’s supervisor has not been charged.

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