Florida woman stuck on drawbridge could face trespass charges

Woman clings for her life to open railroad drawbridge 0:26

A Florida woman who dangled from an upright drawbridge for a half-hour — making her a sensation on the Web — could be charged with trespassing.

Robert LeDoux of Florida East Coast Railway said his company is waiting to find out more about the woman — identified by officials as Wanda McGowan, 55, of Dania Beach — before deciding whether to press charges.

McGowan had apparently just participated in a breast-cancer awareness event when she walked past warning signs and onto the railroad bridge, which was down so a train could cross the river.

The bridge, which is operated remotely, then moved into the upright position, leaving McGowan hanging on for dear life 22 feet in the air.

"The next thing is, she’s stuck, straddled like Jesus Christ," witness Philip Glazebrook told NBC Miami.

In a series of 911 calls, passersby pleaded with authorities to bring down the bridge, fearing McGowan's strength would give out.

"We need big ladder or something like that to get her down. I don't know how long she is going to last," one caller said. "She is trying to hold on, but nobody can reach her. It's too high."

Rescuers using a 24-foot ladder got her down to cheers from a small crowd of spectators, and McGowan walked away under her own steam.

Photos and video of the pink-clad woman hanging from the bridge were quickly posted all over Instagram and Twitter, but city and railroad officials were not amused.

"We are thankful that the individual involved in this life-threatening incident survived. The decision to trespass on private property was an unfortunate, poor choice that endangered the trespasser’s life as well as the lives of the first responders," said Matt Little, a spokesman for the City of Fort Lauderdale.

"The decision to cross the clearly marked railroad bridge should not be lauded."

Little said it was up to the railroad to decide if they want to cite McGowan for trespassing on private property.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time we would," he said, adding that railroad cops were trying to determine McGowan's state of mind and reason for crossing the bridge.

McGowan could not be reached by phone for comment and did not respond to a message on a social-media site.

In 2010, a Lynn University student, Kyle Conrad, was killed when he and a friend got caught on the moving bridge. Conrad, 21, fell into water and died of head injuries.