The family of a man from North Carolina in the USA who died after driving his car off a bridge while following directions on Google Maps is suing the technology giant for negligence.
The family claims the company was notified that the bridge was washed away but failed to update its navigation system.
Philip Paxson (47), a father of two who sold medical equipment, drowned on September 30, 2022 when his Jeep Gladiator ended up in the Snow Creek in Hickory, according to a court case that appeared in the Wake County court on Tuesday.
Paxson was driving home after his daughter’s ninth birthday party through an unfamiliar neighborhood when Google Maps allegedly led him over a bridge that had already washed away nine years earlier and was never repaired.
“Our daughters ask how and why their daddy died. I don’t know what to tell them so they can understand, because as an adult I still can’t understand how those who are responsible for the GPS directions can have so little regard for a person’s life,” says Alicia Paxson, Philip’s wife.
Police officers who found Paxson’s body in the vehicle said there were no barriers or warning signs that the bridge had washed away. He drove over the edge and fell about 6 meters to the bottom. The car was upside down and halfway underwater when it was found.
The North Carolina Transportation Authority said the bridge was not maintained by local or state officials. The original developer’s company has dissolved.
Several private real estate companies are also named in the lawsuit as allegedly responsible for the bridge and adjacent land.
Several people notified Google Maps that the bridge had washed away in the years before Paxson died and urged the company to update the route information, the lawsuit said.
A GoFundMe campaign has since been launched to help Alicia and the two daughters.