A recent lawsuit has been filed against Google, alleging that Google Maps provided directions that led to a fatal accident. The family of Philip Paxson, a 47-year-old North Carolina resident, claims that Google Maps directed him to drive off a bridge that had collapsed almost a decade ago, resulting in his untimely death.
The Tragic Event
On September 30, 2022, Philip Paxson was returning home from his daughter's ninth birthday celebration when he followed Google Maps' directions across a bridge. Unknown to him, this bridge had collapsed in 2013 and was never repaired. “He was following his GPS which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river,” shared Paxson's mother-in-law on social media. She emphasized that the bridge had been in ruins for nine years without any barriers or warning signs in place.
Lawsuit Details and Other Concerns
The lawsuit, representing Paxson's widow, Alicia, asserts that Google Maps' directions “misguided [her husband] to his death.” This tragic incident occurred shortly after the Paxson family relocated to Hickory, North Carolina, from Florida. State troopers who arrived at the accident site confirmed the absence of any warning signs or barriers indicating the bridge's collapse. They found Paxson's vehicle approximately 20 feet below the bridge's edge.
Alicia Paxson expressed her disbelief and grief, stating, “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.”
José Castañeda, a spokesperson for Google, conveyed the company's condolences to the Paxson family and mentioned that they are currently reviewing the lawsuit. The legal action also identifies Tarde, LLC, James Tarlton, and Hinckley Gauvain, LLC as defendants, being the owners of the dilapidated bridge.
Previous Warnings and Community Outcry
It's worth noting that this isn't the first time concerns have been raised about the bridge's condition. Residents of Hickory had been voicing their concerns for years, urging for the road to be repaired or adequately barricaded. Attorney Robert Zimmerman highlighted that Google Maps had been misdirecting drivers onto this hazardous road for years, even after receiving public complaints. Zimmerman stated, “Philip's widow Alicia is adamant we do everything possible to obtain justice and make sure something like this tragic nightmare cannot happen to another family.”
In a related report from 2014, barriers were in place to prevent vehicles from accessing the collapsed road. However, these barriers were reportedly vandalized and removed over time. The Paxson family, along with many Hickory residents, now hope for more effective warning systems and barriers to prevent further tragedies.