New video shows moments before woman’s deadly fall from bridge

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:16 PM EDT
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WFLX has obtained new video that shows the moments before a 79-year-old woman’s fatal fall earlier this year from the Royal Park Bridge.

A bridge tender is accused of opening the span while Carol Wright walked her bicycle across the bridge Feb. 6.

“She has no idea what’s about to happen,” Wright’s family attorney Lance Ivey of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath told WFLX. “It’s everyone’s worst nightmare.”

Wright died several minutes after being recorded on the video when the bridge tender, Artissua Paulk, who's now charged with manslaughter, raised the Royal Park Bridge.

"She's going to be trapped in this walkway for several minutes, experiencing just a painful, mental and physical death," Ivey told Contact 5 as he watched the video.

West Palm Beach police claim Paulk, who has pleaded not guilty, failed to visually check the bridge before opening it.

"She was 18 feet away from being safely off the bridge and going home that day," Ivey said. "There's a tragic irony here. She yields to other pedestrians, yields to a bicyclist for a minimum of 10 seconds. Ten seconds is ample enough time for her to get 18 feet off the bridge and ride her bike home."

Following Wright’s death in February, WFLX traveled to the Fifth Street bridge in Miami.

That's where the Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Drawbridges Inc. — the same company that manages the Royal Park Bridge — are testing lasers and artificial intelligence.

The technology promises to prevent another tragedy and a bridge tender from raising a span if a person or moveable object is detected on it.

But nearly five months after Wright’s death, FDOT can’t tell WFLX if or when life-saving technology will be deployed on other state-owned bridges.

“We continue to actively work on this pilot project and do not have an update or additional information to share at this time,” a spokesperson said in an email to WFLX.

We shared FDOT's response with State Sen. Lori Berman, who sits on the Senate's Transportation Committee.

"I'm concerned. I think this needs to be done quickly," Berman said. "We know people's lives are at stake, so the quicker we can act, the better it will be for the public."

Berman has been vocal about bridge safety and the need for new technology after WFLX first exposed a series of troubling mishaps on local bridges earlier this year.

"I will also follow up with FDOT and see if they have any additional information as to a timeline because that's really important that we address this in a timely manner," Berman said.

Wright’s family filed a lawsuit against the bridge tender and Florida Drawbridges Inc.

WFLX has also learned Palm Beach County is also exploring new safety enhancements, cameras and additional training for its bridge tenders and nine moveable bridges.

Scripps Only Content 2022