And the app allegedly was still telling people to use that route long afterward.
Like everyone else these days, when we’re in an unfamiliar place we use a navigation app for help. And like most everyone else, we’ve run into problems using the technology. But for a father of two who had just moved to the area and was trying to get home during a storm, Google Maps didn’t just goof up, it led him to his death by directing him to use a collapsed bridge, alleges his widow in a lawsuit recently filed in court.
Watch a driver in a sixth-gen Camaro leave a cop in his dust here.
This case is so tragic and from the claims made in the lawsuit, it sounds like it was completely avoidable. As reported by Fox News, 47-year-old Navy veteran Philip Paxson left a friend’s house after helping clean up the celebration of his daughter’s birthday. His wife and two daughters had already headed back to their new house.
With the weather posing a challenge and his admitted unfamiliarity with his new hometown of Hickory, North Carolina, Paxson got directions home using Google Maps. Unfortunately, in the dark and with a storm going he didn’t see that the bridge he was directed to drive across was nothing but a 20-foot drop, his Jeep flipping, landing on its roof in the water below.
The thing is the bridge didn’t wash out just a few months before. Instead, it was a hazard the local paper had done a story about years before after flooding in July 2013 caused the bridge’s collapse. For nine years it posed a serious safety concern, with the lawsuit filing claiming the road and bridge were never turned over to the state department of transportation, making the developer liable.
What’s more, Fox News indicates multiple people throughout the years reported to Google Maps that the bridge was gone. There apparently had been problems with people trying to drive that way, prompting neighbors to put up cones and other obstacles as a warning. Those unsurprisingly proved ineffective in a storm at night when Paxson drove his Jeep down the unfamiliar stretch of pavement.
One of the “suggest an edit” requests made by a Google Maps user was submitted just a few days before Paxson’s death. Why the route wasn’t eliminated from suggestions isn’t clear, but the lawsuit notes Google continued using it as recently as April 6, 2023.
This is why we don’t entirely trust navigation apps. While we’ve never almost driven off a washed-out bridge, we have been sent to the wrong place and had other mishaps. We’re sure most of you have as well.
Philip Paxson was a gearhead, like us, with his obituary stating he “had a lifelong affection for muscle cars, motorcycles, dirt bikes, boats, really anything with a motor.” He was also a dedicated family man. And now he’s gone. Stay safe, everyone.
Images via Fox News