A year ago, veteran Phil Paxson was leaving a birthday party for his daughter after volunteering to stay and clean up in Hickory, North Carolina. He plugged in the 4 mile trek back to his home in the dark and rain, driving his Jeep Gladiator, a brief ten minute trip that Google Maps told him went over Snow Creek Bridge.
Paxson drowned after the Google app sent him over a bridge that had fallen apart in 2013 and was never repaired. He fell 20 feet into the water and was found later in his partially submerged and overturned vehicle. The state highway officials had removed barriers to the fallen bridge after recent vandalism.
Google had not updated their app in 9 years despite a significant number of people asking them to update it and avoid a tragedy such as this, according to the suit.
Google’s inexcusable negligence and reckless disregard for life took this father away from his family forever.
“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,” Paxson’s widow, Alicia Paxson, said in a news release.
Paxon’s widow has filed suit against Google LLC, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Tarde LLC, James Tarlton and Hickley Gauvain LLC. The suit was filed Sept. 19 in North Carolina Superior Court in Wake County.
Attorney for the family, Robert W. Zimmerman, said following the filing, “For nine years, the community of Hickory was needlessly and senselessly placed at risk, when a road-bridge collapsed in 2013, and when one of the largest companies in the world refused to correct its mapping algorithms despite repeated pleas. For years before this tragedy, Hickory residents asked for the road to be fixed or properly barricaded before someone was hurt or killed. Their demands went unanswered.”
Google is no stranger to major negligence or criticism.
In 2018 hundreds of Google employees begged the company not to be ‘complicit’ in oppression in China, pleas that went ignored and unanswered by the multinational corporation. Google fires employees for having dissident political viewpoints.
Google has pulled ads from conservative websites. Google abruptly stops doing any business with entire industries it ideologically dislikes. Google regularly censors and suppresses conservative thought and opinion. Google News has a well-documented heavy left-wing prejudice: presenting news from left-leaning outlets 61% of the time and right-leaning news outlets only 3% of the time. The Republican Party has had to sue Google just to get its emails delivered to recipients.
Google is owned by the Alphabet Corp. and trades under the symbol GOOGL on the NASDAQ exchange.
UPDATE: We asked Google for comment and a spokeswoman replied, “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.”
This story was updated to include a late-arriving quote from Google.