Florida Royal Park Bridge operator Artissua Lafay Paulk charged in death of woman

A Florida bridge operator was hit with criminal charges in the death of a 79-year-old woman who fell off the drawbridge when it suddenly opened last month.

Artissua Lafay Paulk, 43, was charged with manslaughter in connection with the Feb. 6 incident in which Carol Wright plunged to her death after the Royal Park Bridge was unsafely raised, police said.

“I’m here with the police I killed a lady on the bridge,” Paulk allegedly wrote in a text to a friend, according to Fox 13.

Police found that Paulk had also texted her supervisor about lying to cops — and then deleted the messages, the outlet reported.

Security footage showed that Paulk did not walk onto the balcony of the bridge to look for pedestrians, as she had initially claimed to investigators, according to the report.

Wright, a grandmother, had been walking her bicycle on the bridge between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach when it began rising.

The Royal Park Bridge is closed to all traffic Sunday, Feb.  6 as West Palm Beach police and fire rescue work on the scene in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“I’m here with the police I killed a lady on the bridge,” Paulk allegedly wrote in a text, according to Fox 13.
Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Post via AP

West Palm Beach police spokesman Mike Jachles said that the woman had “tried to hang on,” to no avail.

“There was a nearby bystander who tried to help her, but tragically she fell five or six stories below where she died landing on concrete,” Jachles said at the time.

The victim’s name was not disclosed by police under Marsy’s Law, officials said but was identified by her family’s lawyer, Lance Ivey.


Leave a Comment