Family sues Google after accusing Maps of directing motorist to drive off collapsed bridge
The family allege that Google negligently failed to show the bridge had fallen nine years earlier
and live on Freeview channel 276
The family of a North Carolina man who drowned after driving off a collapsed bridge are suing Google for negligence after claiming that he died because Google failed to update its maps.
On 30 September 2022, Philip Paxson was found drowned in his overturned pick-up truck beneath a bridge that had collapsed nearly a decade earlier.
Paxson, 47, was returning home from his daughter’s ninth birthday before the accident, his mother-in-law wrote in a post on Facebook. She said that neither the destroyed bridge, in Hickory, North Carolina, or the road leading to it had any barriers or warning signs to alert drivers of the hazard.
“It was a dark and rainy night and he was following his GPS which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river,” the post reads. “He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. It was a totally preventable accident. We are grieving his death.”
Now, Paxson's family are suing the company over his death, alleging that Google negligently failed to show the bridge had fallen nine years earlier.
The case was filed in civil court in Wake County on Tuesday (19 September) and a spokesperson for Google said the company was reviewing the allegations.
Paxson, a father of two, was driving home from his daughter's ninth birthday party at a friend's house. He was in an unfamiliar neighbourhood at the time of his death, according to the family's lawsuit.
His wife had driven his two daughters home earlier, and he stayed behind to help clean up.
"Unfamiliar with local roads, he relied on Google Maps, expecting it would safely direct him home to his wife and daughters," lawyers for the family said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
"Tragically, as he drove cautiously in the darkness and rain, he unsuspectingly followed Google's outdated directions to what his family later learned for nearly a decade was called the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' crashing into Snow Creek, where he drowned."
The suit claims that local residents had repeatedly contacted Google to have them change their online maps after the bridge collapsed in 2013.
Barriers normally placed across the bridge entrance were missing due to vandalism, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The lawsuit is also suing three local companies, arguing they had a duty to maintain the bridge.
"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 in a statement.
"We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family," a spokesman for Google told AP News.
"Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit."