WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — Police in West Palm Beach arrested a bridgetender on a manslaughter charge Thursday after they said she allegedly lied to them about her involvement in a woman’s death.
On Feb. 6, Carol Wright, 79, was crossing the Royal Park Bridge at 12:48 p.m. with her bicycle when the bridge gates came down, and the deck went up.
Police said she was about 10 feet from the end of the bridge when she fell through a gap. Wright tried to cling on as a bystander tried to save her, but she lost her grip and fell to her death.
At the time of the incident, police spoke to the bridgetender, Artissua Paulk, about what happened.
According to a report by WPBF, the incident report said Paulk told police she checked the bridge four times before Wright’s death. Paulk also told police that she raised the bridge five times that day.
However, surveillance video showed that the bridge was raised six times.
WPBF also reported that the video showed someone only went on the balcony at 8:08 a.m., 8:59 a.m., and 9:03 a.m. during Paulk’s shift — hours before Wright’s death.
Police said a search of Paulk’s phone also turned up deleted text messages between her and her supervisor that showed the supervisor tell her to “tell them [she] walked outside on balcony 3 [different] times to make sure no one was past.”
The supervisor also wrote to Paulk to “delete this msg,” according to police.
Paulk was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence for “reckless disregard of human life and the safety of a person, specifically Carol Wright,” court documents said.
Lance Ivey, the attorney for Wright’s family, said he plans to sue Paulk’s employer, Florida Drawbridges Inc., according to WPBF.