N.C. family sues Google in fatal collapsed bridge wreck
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HICKORY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Attorneys for a man killed in Hickory when his jeep plunged into a hole where a bridge had collapsed years earlier are now suing Google and the neighborhood developers for his death.

The attorneys say Google was warned multiple times that the bridge did not exist and the company failed to update its GPS mapping system.

Phil Paxson was driving home from his daughter’s birthday party on a rainy night in Hickory almost a year ago when he drove over a bridge that wasn’t there. Attorneys say his jeep flipped over, filled with water, and he drowned in the creek.

Before leaving the birthday party attorneys say Phil went onto Google Maps, which routed him to the bridge that collapsed nine years prior and didn’t exist.

Attorneys say not only did Google not update its maps when a user pointed out the problem years before, but the original developers of the nearby housing development never turned over the road to the North Carolina DOT, never set up appropriate maintenance agreements for the road, and never replaced the bridge.

“There is absolutely no good reason that this cliff and this canyon were allowed to exist for 9 years and 10 years to this day,” Paxson family attorney Robert Zimmerman said. “We also believe and we allege in our complaint that when a GPS company is made aware of a danger, they need to review the problem and stop directing people to a deadly hazard.”

Attorneys say to this day the bridge has not been replaced but concerned neighbors took it upon themselves to put up barriers to try and prevent another tragedy.

“I just struggle every day to understand how something so unimaginable and horrific could be allowed to happen,” said Alicia Paxson, Phil’s widow during a news conference announcing the lawsuit Wednesday morning. “I still don’t have the answers to tell my daughters, I don’t have the answers to the question of, ‘Why is daddy gone, and why isn’t he coming back?”

A spokesperson from Google says, “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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