Drawbridge Operator Charged With Manslaughter After Death Of A Woman Who Fell When Bridge Opened

The bridgetender who was controlling a Florida drawbridge when an elderly woman walking across it fell to her death was arrested and charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

In a press release, West Palm Beach police said 43-year-old Artissua Lafaye Paulk would be charged for the February 6th incident after 79-year-old Carol Wright fell to her death as she walked her bike across the Royal Park Bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway.

In Paulk’s statement to police detailed in a probable cause affidavit, she described the numerous measures she took to ensure that no one was on the bridge before opening it, including visually checking several times from the balcony, turning the traffic lights red, closing the pedestrian gate, and making several announcements that the bridge was going to open.

Paulk told investigators that she didn’t see any pedestrians or bicycles inside the gates when she checked for the final time before opening the bridge.

“Based on the above investigation, video evidence contradicts Artissua Paulk’s statement that she walked out onto the balcony and visually checked the bridge for vehicles or pedestrians before opening the bridge,” a police officer stated in the affidavit.

“Artissua Paulk’s actions showed reckless disregard of human life and the safety of a person, specifically Carol Wright,” the officer continued.

Paulk has been charged with one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence after investigators found a discrepancy in her initial account.

Paulk told police she opened the gate five times. Still, when investigators reviewed the log, she had only noted opening the gate four times, while surveillance video showed the gate had opened six times during her shift, the affidavit revealed.

Source & Credit: balleralert.com

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