The family of a North Carolina man who died after driving his car off a collapsed bridge while following Google Maps instructions is suing the tech giant for negligence, claiming he was informed of the collapse but failed to update his information. navigation system.
Philip Paxson, a medical device salesman and father of two, drowned on Sept. 30, 2022, after his Jeep Gladiator sank in Snow Creek in Hickory, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court . Paxson was driving home from his daughter's ninth birthday party through an unfamiliar neighborhood when Google Maps allegedly directed him to cross a bridge that had collapsed nine years earlier and was never repaired.
“Our girls ask how and why their dad died, and I am left without words they can understand because, as an adult, I still cannot understand how those responsible for the GPS directions and the bridge could have acted with such little respect for human life. ”said his wife, Alicia Paxson.
State troopers who found Paxton's body in his overturned and partially submerged truck said there were no barriers or warning signs along the washed out highway. He had gone off an unprotected edge and crashed about 20 feet below, according to the lawsuit.
The North Carolina State Patrol had said the bridge was not maintained by local or state officials and that the original developer's company had dissolved. The lawsuit names several private property management companies that it claims are responsible for the bridge and adjacent land.
Several people had notified Google Maps about the crash in the years before Paxson's death and had urged the company to update their route information, according to the lawsuit.
Tuesday's court filing includes email records from another Hickory resident who had used the map's "suggest an edit" feature in September 2020 to alert the company that was directing drivers over the collapsed bridge. An email confirmation from Google from November 2020 confirms that the company received its report and was reviewing the suggested change, but the lawsuit claims that Google took no further action.
"We have the deepest condolences for the Paxson family," Google spokesman José Castañeda told The Associated Press. "Our goal is to provide accurate route information in Maps and we are reviewing this demand."