RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVO) — A family in North Carolina is suing after a man followed Google Maps instructions right off a collapsed bridge and to his death.
According to the Associated Press, on September 30th, 2022, Philip Paxson, 47, was on his way home from his daughter’s 9th birthday party when he drowned after driving his Jeep Gladiator into Snow Creek in Hickory.
According to the lawsuit, Google Maps instructed him to cross a bridge that had collapsed 9 years prior.
“The bridge had no artificial lighting, and the area was pitch black at 11 p.m.,” the lawsuit said, adding that it was raining. “Mr. Paxson’s vehicle drove off the unguarded edge of the bridge and crashed approximately twenty feet below.”
“Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I’m at a loss for words they can understand because, as an adult, I still can’t understand how those responsible for the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with so little regard for human life,” his wife, Alicia Paxson, said.
Paxton’s body was found by state troopers, who said there were no barriers or warning signs on the roadway. He was found inside the overturned, partially submerged truck about 20 feet below.
The family is suing Google for negligence for failing to update its navigation system after multiple requests by neighbors to warn drivers the bridge was out.
“For years before this tragedy, Hickory residents asked for the road to be fixed or properly barricaded before someone was hurt or killed. Their demands went unanswered,” Paxson family attorney Robert Zimmerman said in a statement. “We’ve discovered that Google Maps misdirected motorists like Mr. Paxson onto this collapsed road for years, despite receiving complaints from the public demanding that Google fix its map and directions to mark the road as CLOSED.”
Google has “the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,” Google told CNN in a statement. “Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in maps, and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”