A Florida bridge tender was charged with manslaughter after she raised a Palm Beach bridge while an elderly woman on foot was still trying to safely reach the other side.
Artissua Lafay Paulk, 43, was arrested in her home on Thursday and released Friday after posting $20,000 bail, News 4 Jax reported.
79-year-old Carol Wright was walking her bicycle across a West Palm Beach bridge in February when the bridge tender raised the drawbridge before she safely reached the other side.
According to WPTV, Carol Wright was 10 feet away from the end of the bridge when it began to go up.
A good Samaritan grabbed Wright’s arm and tried to save her but he couldn’t hold on and the 79-year-old plunged about 6 stories to her death.
According to court documents, Paulk was encouraged to lie to police by her supervisor, which also happens to be her mother-in-law.
“When they talk to you, make dam sure you tell them you walked outside the balcony 3 diff times to make sure no one was past gates n delete this msg,” Paulk’s supervisor said in a text to her on February 6, WPTV reported.
Paulk also blamed the victim and falsely claimed Wright went under the gate to grab her cellphone and died after the bridge went up.
Detectives said video from surveillance cameras proved Paulk’s statements to be false, the outlet reported.
A West Palm Beach bridge tender was in court Friday after she was arrested in connection with the February death of a 79-year-old West Palm Beach woman who fell from the Royal Park Bridge.
Artissua Lafay Paulk, 43, of Greenacres, faces a charge of one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence in the death of Carol Wright.
A probable cause affidavit obtained by WPTV shows that Paulk’s supervisor, Kathie Harper, who is also her mother-in-law, told her to tell police that she checked the bridge.
The two women sent a series of text messages after the incident.
In one of the messages, the report shows that Harper instructed Paulk to lie to investigators about checking the bridge house balcony for pedestrians.
“When they talk to you, make dam sure you tell them you walked outside the balcony 3 diff times to make sure no one was past gates n delete this msg…” Paulk’s supervisor texted her on Feb. 6, the date of Wright’s death.
“I’m here with police I killed a lady on the bridge,” the affidavit shows that Paulk texted someone on the afternoon of the incident.
Paulk was then told by Harper to delete her text messages. Investigators also said Paulk tried to blame the victim.
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