Woman biking across drawbridge falls to death; bystander lost grip trying to pull her to safety

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A woman walking her bike across a drawbridge that connects the mainland to Palm Beach, Florida fell to her death Sunday when it began to rise.

A bystander tried to pull her to safety but lost his grip, officials said.

The woman was within 10 feet of the barrier arms that halt traffic when the drawbridge started to move, according to police.

"The woman tried to hang on. There was a bystander nearby who tried to help her, but tragically she fell five or six stories below where she died landing on concrete," West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles said.

Police said investigators are trying to figure out whether the bridge tender followed procedure or if the woman crossed after the signals were down, WFOR reported.

"There are crossing arms. There are warning signs and there are safety procedures in place for the bridge tenders to follow, with multiple steps and multiple layers of checking to make sure that there are no cars or people on the bridge when it goes up," said Jachles.

The Florida Department of Transportation maintains the bridge, but the bridge tenders are staffed by a private state contractor.

The bridge is equipped with bells and whistles to alert drivers and pedestrians that the drawbridge is going up.

The woman's name has not been released. The bridge was closed for more than six hours after the accident.

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