FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The family of a woman who fell to her death from the Royal Park Bridge in Palm Beach County is suing the company that operates the bridge.
On Monday, Carol Wright’s estate filed the suit against Artissua Paulk, the bridge operator on duty at the time of the fall, and the company Florida Drawbridges Inc.
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The lawsuit alleges both were negligent and asks to be compensated for loss of earnings, pain and suffering, medical, and funeral expenses.
On February 6th, Wright, 79, was walking her bike westbound across the bridge when it began to open. She tried to hold on and a bystander tried to pull her to safety but lost his grip and she fell five stories, landing on the concrete below. She was pronounced dead on the scene.
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Paulk has been charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence in the incident.
Police say video evidence shows the tender failed to perform the required checks for pedestrians before opening the bridge, and that she lied to investigators about performing those checks.
According to court records, Paulk was texting with her supervisor before and after the incident. Legal experts call the messages incriminating.
In one text, the supervisor tells the tender to “make dam sure you tell [police] you walked outside the balcony 3 diff times” and to “delete this message.”
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In a statement, Florida Drawbridges responded to the lawsuit. They called Wright’s death “tragic” but said it “has the appropriate safe operating procedures in place.”