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In brief: Google is being sued by the family of a North Carolina man who drove his car off a collapsed bridge as he followed directions given by Google Maps. It's claimed that Google acted negligently, as it was allegedly informed that the bridge was no longer in use on several occasions, but failed to update its system.
Philip Paxson, a 47-year-old medical device salesman and father of two, drove his pickup truck off the edge of a bridge that had collapsed almost a decade earlier on the outskirts of Hickory, a city about 60 miles northwest of Charlotte, on September 30, 2022. His mother-in-law wrote on a Facebook page that he was returning home from his daughter's ninth birthday, adding that there were no warning signs on the bridge or the road leading up to it.
Paxson's lawyer, Bob Zimmerman, said that he had only recently moved to the area and was unfamiliar with the local roads, relying on Google Maps. It's claimed that the navigation system directed Paxson to cross the collapsed bridge. "Tragically, as he drove cautiously in the darkness and rain, he unsuspectingly followed Google's outdated directions to what his family later learned for nearly a decade was called the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' crashing into Snow Creek, where he drowned," Zimmerman said.
As reported by AP, State troopers who found Paxson's body in his overturned and partially submerged truck had said there were no barriers or warning signs along the washed-out roadway. According to the lawsuit, he had driven off an unguarded edge and crashed about 20 feet below.
The suit also claims that Google had been notified about the collapsed bridge on multiple occasions before Paxson's death and had been urged to update its system. A Hickory resident used Maps' "suggest an edit" feature to warn Google about the collapsed bridge in 2020, and while the company said in an email that it was reviewing the suggestion, it took no further actions.
The lawsuit also names several private property management companies that were responsible for the land and surrounding plots where the crash happened. The original bridge developer's company had dissolved.
"We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family," Google spokesperson José Castañeda told the AP. "Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit."
Alicia Paxson, Philip Paxson's wife, said, "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."