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Family sues Google Maps after man drove off collapsed bridge

The lawsuit claims the bridge had been collapsed for nine years but Google Maps never updated its navigation system.
Family sues Google Maps after man drove off collapsed bridge
Posted at 11:35 AM, Sep 21, 2023

A North Carolina woman is suing Google Maps for the 2022 death of her husband after he drove his car off a collapsed bridge while following directions from the tech giant's GPS navigation service.

Philip Paxson, a medical device salesman and father of two, died on the night of Sept. 30, 2022, after his Jeep Gladiator plunged off a bridge and into a creek where he drowned.

Paxson was allegedly driving through an unfamiliar neighborhood when Google Maps directed him to cross a bridge that had collapsed in 2013 and was never repaired. State troopers who found Paxson's body in the overturned truck said there were no warning signs or barriers present along the washed-out roadway to warn drivers of the collapse.

"Our girls ask how and why their daddy died, and I'm at a loss for words they can understand," Alicia Paxson said in a statement. "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." 

A negligence lawsuit filed Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court claims Google was made aware of the collapsed bridge but never updated its navigation system. A court filing also confirms that Google had received at least one email request to stop directing drivers over the collapsed bridge, but the lawsuit claims the company took no further action despite a response saying the matter was "in review."

The lawsuit also names several private management companies that it claims are responsible for the collapsed bridge and adjoining land. Investigators said the roadway where the tragedy occurred was not maintained by any local or state officials after the original developer's company dissolved.

“We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family," Google spokesperson José Castañeda told The Associated Press. "Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”

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