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Plea deal reached in death of 79-year-old woman who fell from the Royal Park draw Bridge


WEST PALM BEACH, FL– A plea deal has finally been reached for the death of a 79-year-old woman who fell from a drawbridge in West Palm Beach after the drawbridge operator failed to survey the bridge before opening it.
43-year-old Artissua Lafaye Paulk of Greenacres, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter on Tuesday for the death of Carol Wright.
Judge Scott Suskauer sentenced Paulk to two days in prison though she will be credited for time served.
Paulk has also been ordered to serve 200 hours of community service, will be on probation for 8 years, and will no longer be permitted to work at any job involving operating heavy machinery or equipment.
In addition to the sentencing, Paulk has been ordered to write an apology letter to Wright’s sisters.
Wright fell 40 ft. to her death on Feb. 6 as she crossed the bridge on her bike and it suddenly started to open.
Paulk told investigators that she went out on the balcony to perform a visual check and did not see anyone on the bridge before opening it.
Surveillance video contradicted Paulk’s statements.
Police also found text messages showing that Paulk’s mother-in-law, who was also her supervisor, told Paulk to tell police that she did a visual check of the bridge beforehand.
Harper was not arrested in the case but was fired along with Paulk in March of 2022.
The Wright family filed a lawsuit against Florida Drawbridges Inc. which operates the bridge and reached an $8.2 million settlement in July.