Google sued over fatal crash in North Carolina

The lawsuit alleges that Google Maps misguided a motorist to a collapsed “bridge to nowhere” last year as he was driving in the rain and darkness.

The private bridge owners were also named as defendants in the negligence lawsuit filed in North Carolina Superior Court, Wake County this week.

The suit claims that North Carolina motorist Philip Paxson was led to his death over a long collapsed bridge because of a “dangerously outdated” Google Maps.

Paxson was driving in the rain and dark in Hickory, where he had recently moved with his family from Florida, and relied on Google’s directions for navigation.

He crashed off the “bridge to nowhere,” as the structure has been known locally for years, into a creek below, where he drowned.

Collapsed bridge
Photograph of the subject bridge taken after the incident in daylight.

The incident happened on 30th September, 2022, nine years after the bridge collapsed.

Paxson was driving home alone after a children’s party at a friends’ house. His wife and their two young daughters left earlier as he stayed to help with the cleanup.

“Mr. Paxson was completely unaware that the Snow Creek Bridge collapsed in 2013, just like others who narrowly escaped the same fate,” the family’s lawyer Larry Bendesky said.

The lawsuit claims that the local community has repeatedly appealed to Google to route traffic away from the bridge, and bridge owners to erect proper barriers and warning signs, but to no avail.

“Like so many motorists, Philip put his trust in Google Maps to safely guide him home from the children's birthday party. His trust in Google Maps, and the failure of the road and bridge-keepers to do their jobs, cost him his life," Bendesky said.

The victim’s wife, Alicia Paxson, said Google “ignored” community pleas to change its map and directions.

“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,” she said.

The complaint alleges that even after Google was made aware of Paxson’s death, the collapsed bridge was still depicted as a passable road on Maps.

In a statement to Cybernews, Google said: “We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family. Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit.”

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