The family of a North Carolina man is suing Google after the maps app told him to drive off a collapsed bridge.
47-year-old Philip Paxson was driving home from his young daughter’s birthday party on September 30, 2022, when he drove his vehicle off a destroyed bridge. The bridge, located in Hickory, N.C., was allegedly washed away several years prior in 2013. Despite that, there was no barricade or signage on the street to alert vehicles of the danger.
On Tuesday, his family sued the tech giant for negligence, claiming the company failed to update its maps. They also sued a number of local private property management companies as it was their responsibility to maintain the bridge.
According to a Google representative, the company is currently reviewing the claims. They’ve also offered their deepest condolences for Paxson’s family.
Paxson’s mother-in-law wrote on social media at the time of his death, he was given inaccurate GPS coordinates on a “dark and rainy night”, which led him to the collapsed bridge. She emphasized that he was simply following his GPS, which directed him to a dark, concrete road – one that led to a damaged bridge.
The day after the incident, the father of two’s 2020 Jeep Gladiator was discovered partially submerged in the water, upside-down. Paxson’s wife said she and their daughters had left the party venue earlier while he had stayed behind to clean up. He was also unfamiliar with the area.
According to the lawsuit, Paxson had driven off an unguarded edge, which caused him to crash his vehicle approximately 20 feet below.
Many local residents had also previously requested Google update its map to account for the damaged bridge. Email records included in the recent lawsuit allege the tech giant sent a confirmation to one resident, who had notified Google about the collapsed bridge.
Paxson’s wife, Alicia, told media outlets that their daughters constantly ask “how and why their daddy died” and she’s at a loss for words as to how to answer them as she still can’t fathom how those responsible for the bridge and GPS maps acted with such minimal regard for human life.
Currently, it’s not completely clear whose responsibility it is for the washed-away bridge and road. The North Carolina State Patrol did say at the time of Paxson’s death, however, that the bridge was the responsibility of local officials. Allegedly, the company that had worked on the road had closed down several years prior.
Following Paxson’s death, a GoFundMe page was established to help the family pay for the funeral costs. As of now, more than $45,000 has been raised.
The family also shared an update on the GoFundMe page, stating that they are still grieving the horrific loss and that no outcome will ever bring [him] back or fill the hole that he’s left in their lives. They also said they would continue to fight to hold those responsible for his death.