Ex-bridge tender breaks agreement with prosecutors that would have saved her from prison
WEST PALM BEACH – Ex-bid has been imposed In the death of a woman The woman who fell from the Royal Park Bridge pleaded guilty to violating her probation on Monday, canceling an agreement with prosecutors that would have spared her from prison altogether.
Artisoa Polk, 44, tested positive for marijuana two months into her eight-year probation, according to court documents. Assistant District Attorney Krishett Mixon did not agree to a second plea deal after Polk violated the first, leaving Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer to decide her punishment.
She faces up to 15 years in prison for manslaughter.
Polk pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year in the Feb. 6, 2022, death of 79-year-old Carol Wright. Wright rode her bike across the stretch that connects Palm Beach to downtown West Palm Beach when Polk raised the drawbridge at the request of a passing boat. . Wright fell 50 to 60 feet and landed on the concrete footings of the span.
Polk told the Florida Department of Transportation that she inspected the drawbridge several times before raising it and broadcasting its opening over loudspeakers. However, West Palm Beach police said surveillance video from the bridge and text messages Polk sent — and then deleted — contradict her statements.
Polk was fired from her position in the bridge tender “due to a violation of the company’s safe operating procedures.”
Florida Drawbridges, the company that operates the Royal Park Bridge, agreed in 2022 to pay $8.27 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Wright family. It also agreed to take steps to prevent other bystanders from falling, such as requiring tenders to be approved and their performance to be reviewed.
Wright was a retired journalist and at one time business editor of the Palm Beach Daily News. An attorney representing her family said Wright was riding her bike from the Classic Book Store in Palm Beach to her home just south of Belvedere Road. She made the 6-mile round trip frequently.
During Polk’s original plea conference, Suskauer withheld adjudication on the manslaughter charge. Her probation would have been reduced to five years if she successfully completed all of its conditions, which included 200 hours of community service and a letter of apology to the Wright sisters.
Wright’s family attended Monday’s hearing but did not speak. They will have another opportunity to do so at Polk’s sentencing hearing, which Suskauer has not yet scheduled. Polk and her attorney, Jack Fleischman, are scheduled to appear in court for a status check in April.
Hannah Phillips is a journalist who covers public safety and criminal justice issues for the Palm Beach Post. You can contact her at email@example.com. Help support our journalism and Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on the Palm Beach Post: Bridge tender accused in woman’s death violates probation and faces prison