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Woman falls to her death from rising drawbridge in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida

PALM BEACH, Fla. – A woman fell to her death Sunday afternoon from a rising drawbridge that began opening before she could move off it, police said.

West Palm Beach police said the woman was walking off the bridge with a bicycle and was within 10 feet of the barrier arms that halt traffic when the drawbridge started to rise, sending her careening into an open chasm.

A man standing on the other side of the barrier arms grabbed her as she fell but could not hold on, police said. She plummeted more than 50 feet.

“She was walking her bike from east to west and had almost reached the furthest point of the moveable span when it went up,” police spokesman Mike Jachles said. “He tried to help her, but he wasn’t able to hold onto her and she fell about five to six stories below.”

Video: Driver in Florida jumps opening drawbridge in intense video

Detectives are investigating why the drawbridge rose before all pedestrians had a chance to clear it.

The accident happened shortly after 1 p.m. The bridge was closed for nearly six hours as rescue workers recovered the woman’s body and detectives and crime scene investigators inspected the scene.

Police declined to identify the woman Sunday.

A woman fell to her death when a section of the Royal Park Bridge opened Feb. 6.A woman fell to her death when a section of the Royal Park Bridge opened Feb. 6.

A woman fell to her death when a section of the Royal Park Bridge opened Feb. 6.

Police described the bridge tender as “distraught” when officers and rescue workers were on the scene. The tender’s actions before the bridge opened will be a focus of the investigation, Jachles said.

The bridge is maintained by the state Department of Transportation, but it’s tended by staff from a private state contractor, he said.

Follow Andrew Marra on Twitter: @AMarranara

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Woman falls and dies on drawbridge in downtown West Palm Beach

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