Google Maps Blamed For Fatal Bridge Accident

Lawsuit Over Lack Of Google Updates

Stock image of driver using GPS. Credit: MVelishchuk/Shutterstockcom

A popular app is at the centre of a lawsuit after a tragic event last year saw a family lose its husband and father.

On September 30, 2022, Philip Paxson, a medical device representative, tragically lost his life when his vehicle plummeted from a bridge in Hickory, North Carolina, which had given way in 2013, as confirmed by state highway patrol Master Trooper Jeffrey Swagger, according to USA Today.

Tragic Bridge Accident

While navigating an unfamiliar area on his way back from his daughter’s ninth birthday celebration, ‘Google Maps‘ directed him over the collapsed Snow Creek Bridge. The state officials who discovered the ex-Navy serviceman and father of two in an overturned and semi-submerged pick-up, revealed he had descended from an unprotected edge, crashing 20 feet below.

The report highlighted the absence of any cautionary signs or barricades on the route, which remained unrestored at the time of the accident. It is believed that earlier warning signs and barriers at the location had been vandalised and taken away.

Family’s Plea

‘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,’ expressed Alicia Paxson, the bereaved wife, in a press statement.

Legal Action And Previous Google Warnings

Alicia has initiated a negligence lawsuit against Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and also points fingers at several private land and bridge management firms. The legal document emphasises that in the years preceding Paxson’s demise, ‘Google Maps’ had received multiple alerts from individuals imploring the tech giant to refresh its navigational data.

The lawsuit includes email evidence from a local of Hickory who, using the ‘suggest an edit feature’, cautioned Google in September 2020 about the service guiding motorists over the broken bridge.

Google’s Response

‘We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,’ a representative from Google announced, ‘Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps and we are reviewing this lawsuit.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Concha

      26 September 2023 • 22:48

      The staff at Google Maps simply do not take note, or check the validity of their routes, or suggestions. Sometime, around 9 years ago, a new section was added to the south ring road, to alleviate traffic from the single-lane road which goes up into the town centre. This new-ish dual carriageway has a direct link to the road which leads (eventually) to the main north – south motorway, the A31 , but even more importantly, it avoids the huge “feria de Muelbles”, the national bus station, several bars with road-side terraces, a hospital with A & E, a large health Centre, 2 schools, a nursery, a large park and play ground, Aldi, Dia and huge hypermarket, which is next to a Mac Donald’s! This route has kerb-side parking, and is on at least 2 local bus routes too!!! What is worse is that the dual carriageway can be clearly seen on Google Maps Satellite!!! They are putting their users at a much grater risk of having an accident by ignoring the ring road in its entirety. There have been reports of fatal accidents on this route, obviously, I can’t say if Google Maps has any part to play in those, but I do I wonder how many people have lost their no-claims bonus due to this error. Does Google Maps staff collaborate with local traffic authorities? If not, maybe they should!

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