According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Sept 19, Philip Paxson, 47, was driving home from his daughter’s birthday party in Sept 2022 when his Jeep fell into Snow Creek in Hickory, NC and he drowned.
It was a dark and stormy night and Paxson didn’t know the area he was driving through when he was directed by Google Maps across a bridge that collapsed almost ten years beforehand and wasn’t rebuilt. According to the suit, there were warning signs or barriers on the route and Paxon’s Jeep fell and crashed 20 feet below. State troopers found his body inside the overturned and partially submerged vehicle.
The suit alleges that Google Maps had been informed about the collapsed bridge several times in the years leading up to Paxson’s death, but no updates were ever made. As recently as 2020, emails show a Hickory resident used the “suggest an edit” feature to call out the hazard but no action was taken.
According to The Hickory Record, the suit names James Tarlton and the companies Tarde LLC and Hinckley Gauvain LLC as the owners of the bridge and its surrounding land, as the original developer has dissolved and the bridge is not maintained by local or state officials.
During a Wednesday press conference, Paxson’s widow Alicia 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.”
The mother of Paxson's 7 and 9-year-old daughters added, “It still doesn’t seem real.”
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