Google accused of negligence after man drives car off collapsed bridge, dies

A North Carolina woman sued Google for negligence Tuesday after her husband drove off a collapsed bridge and died while following directions from Google Maps.

Alicia Paxson’s husband, Philip Paxson, drove off Snow Creek Bridge in Hickory, N.C., last September, as he returned home from their daughter’s birthday party. The bridge had collapsed nine years earlier but was never repaired or barricaded, according to the lawsuit.

Google Maps allegedly continued to direct drivers to cross the collapsed bridge, despite being notified by Hickory residents that it was no longer passable and presented a danger to drivers.

“Mr. Paxson was completely unaware that the Snow Creek Bridge collapsed in 2013, just like others who narrowly escaped the same fate,” Larry Bendesky, one of Alicia Paxson’s attorneys, said in a statement.

“Like so many motorists, Philip put his trust in Google Maps to safely guide him home from the children’s birthday party,” Bendesky continued. “His trust in Google Maps, and the failure of the road and bridge-keepers to do their jobs, cost him his life.”

Google Maps still showed the bridge as passable as recently as this April, more than six months after Paxson’s death, the lawsuit alleges.

His widow is suing Google and its parent company Alphabet, as well as the individuals responsible for the upkeep of Snow Creek Bridge.

“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,” she said in a statement. 

“Google ignored the concerned community voices telling them to change its map and directions,” Paxson added. “No one should ever lose a loved one this way, and we want to make sure our voices are heard.”

José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement that the company is reviewing the lawsuit.

“We have the deepest sympathies for the Paxson family,” Castañeda said. “Our goal is to provide accurate routing information in Maps.”

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