A lawsuit has been filed against Google for negligence after the search engine provided navigation to a collapsed bridge, which caused a car to crash and resulted in the death of the driver.
Philip Paxson, a medical device salesman’s Jeep Gladiator, plunged into Snow Creek in Hickory on Sept. 30, 2022, while following Google Maps directions.
While heading home after his daughter’s ninth birthday party, Paxson used Google Maps for navigation.
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court, Google Maps directed him to cross a bridge that was broken off nine years ago and had never been repaired.
Google was notified about the collapse and was requested multiple times to update its route navigation, according to the lawsuit.
Paxson was driving alone
When the camping-themed party was over at a friend’s home in Hickory, nearly North Carolina, his wife, Alicia, left early.
However, Paxson remained there for the clean-up and drove back home alone at around 11 p.m.
Even though Hickory is a neighborhood in North Carolina, Paxson never visited that place and was “generally unfamiliar” with the area and road condition as well, the lawsuit suggests.
— 6ixDripTV (@6ixdrip) September 21, 2023
The unfamiliarity urged Paxson to follow the navigation from Google Maps, and around 11 p.m. in the pitch-black area of the bridge without any artificial lighting, Paxson’s vehicle “drove off an unguarded edge of the bridge and crashed approximately twenty feet below,” reads the lawsuit.
“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,” said his wife, Alicia.
The first responders discovered the 47-year-old’s Jeep flipped upside down and partially immersed in the creek.
Google was notified in 2020
The lawsuit claims Kim Ellis, a Hickory resident, reported on Google Maps about drivers being directed to that collapsed bridge via a suggestion to edit an image.
Google sent a confirmation of receiving the request and was reviewing the suggestion in November 2020, but the tech titan did not do anything, argues the lawsuit.
“Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps, and we are reviewing this lawsuit,” said Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, expressing his sympathies for the Paxson family.
“About time. Google Maps takes far too long to respond to reported problems with roads. Maybe being sued will get them to review and update better,” wrote a user on X.
Family sues Google after man dies driving off collapsed bridge following Maps directions
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 clai… https://t.co/li6ixbJ8xk pic.twitter.com/D4rwEahAjM
— TechSpot (@TechSpot) September 21, 2023
Social media users are raising their voices, stating that technology companies should prioritize safety and regularly update their systems to avoid such unfortunate incidents.
“I am deeply sorry to hear about this tragic incident. It is crucial for technology companies to prioritize safety and regularly update their systems to prevent such unfortunate incidents,” was someone’s response to the news of the lawsuit.
The lawsuit includes Google, its parent company Alphabet, several private property management firms, and an individual as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that these entities bear responsibility for the bridge’s chronic neglect as well as the connecting land. The large portion of the bridge collapsed in 2013 and has earned the name “Bridge to Nowhere” among the local residents.