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Legal Expert: Palm Beach Drawbridge Tender's Supervisor Could Face 'Criminal Liability' Over Texts After Woman's Deadly Fall

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – When a Palm Beach drawbridge opened and 79-year-old Carol Wright fell to her death, bridgetender Artissua Paulk was on duty.

Police say video evidence shows the tender failed to check for pedestrians before opening the bridge, and that she lied to investigators about performing those checks.

According to court records, Paulk was texting with her supervisor before and after the incident. Legal experts call the messages incriminating.

In one text, the supervisor tells the tender to "make dam sure you tell [police] you walked outside the balcony 3 diff times" and to "delete this message."

"I would call them not only compelling but very damaging," said Patrick McKamey.

McKamey is a former homicide prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County.

While the tender has been charged with manslaughter, McKamey thinks the supervisor could be charged as well – possibly with obstruction or witness tampering charges for allegedly coaching her employee on what to say and instructing her to delete the texts.

"The fact that the supervisor says make sure you delete this message, what does that tell you? That's 101 consciousness of guilt, clearly. Delete it because I'm counseling you and tampering with you as a witness," McKamey said.

McKamey was then asked, "If this was your case how seriously would you be looking at the supervisor?"

"I would say the supervisor should be very concerned, because it looks like criminal liability on her part," he responded.


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