In November, 2009, an 80 year-old man died following a fall from a Hollywood, Florida, drawbridge that opened while he was walking across it.
Witnesses indicate that, at first, he clung to the bridge's railing as it lifted into the air, but as a policeman on the scene rushed to reach him, he fell from an estimated height of 60 feet.
The bridge had flashing lights, a bell, and a gate to stop pedestrians when it was opened. There was also a security camera and live bridge operator on duty.
It was reported that the decedent was familiar with the drawbridge, as he frequently walked across it. He may have been wearing ear phones at the time of the accident. On the other hand, the live bridge operator may have been distracted by the TV that was in his office, and did not check for pedestrian traffic on the bridge before starting to raise it. When he was questioned, he could not explain why he did not see the man on the bridge.
The man's wife and three daughters sued a variety of defendants, both public and private, who were involved with the ownership or operation of the bridge. It was recently reported that the matter settled for $1.5 million.
New rules for Florida drawbridge operation are forthcoming.