The family of Philip Paxson, a North Carolina resident who died in a tragic car crash a year ago, filed a lawsuit against Google this week, alleging that its negligence caused his death. We used ChatGPT to bring this sad story.
Paxson, a devoted father of two and a medical device seller, was killed on September 30, 2022. He was on his way home from his daughter's ninth birthday party, on a route he didn't know. Google's navigation system allegedly directed him to cross a bridge that collapsed nearly a decade earlier and was never repaired. His Jeep Gladiator fell off the broken end of the bridge and plunged, after falling about 6 feet, into Snow Creek. The vehicle filled with water and Paxson drowned to death. Emergency responders who discovered the vehicle in the river noted that there were no barriers or warning signs along the road.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Wake County Superior Court, the bridge had been demolished 9 years earlier — but because it was not maintained by local or state authorities, but by a long-dismantled private company, there was no one to deal with the danger. The family claims that over the years, several people reported to Google about the destroyed bridge, which for some reason still appeared on the app as a legitimate road, but they did not bother to fix it.
The lawsuit, which also includes scathing allegations against the authorities that manage the land around the bridge, is accompanied by email records from a Hickory resident who used Google's Maps reporting mechanism in September 2020, two years before the fatal accident, to warn that the navigation system was directing drivers to a collapsed bridge. Two months later, he received a reply that the company was reviewing the proposed change — but according to the lawsuit, no further action was taken by Google.
Alicia Paxson, Philip's widow, said: "Our daughters ask how and why their father died, and I can't find words they can understand, because (even) as an adult, (also) I still can't understand how those responsible for GPS and bridge guidelines could have treated so little consideration for human life."
Google spokesman Jose Castanida expressed "deep sympathy" for the Paxson family in a statement to The Associated Press, stressed the company's commitment to providing "accurate routing information" on maps, and noted that Google was reviewing the lawsuit.
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