Now, the family is suing Google, alleging the tech giant had been repeatedly warned about the bridge over Snow Creek and failed to update navigation.
Philip Paxson, a 47-year-old Navy veteran, was on his way home from his daughter’s birthday party in September of last year when he plunged 20 feet to his death. It was a dark, rainy night, and the lawsuit states the unguarded bridge that Google directed Paxson, who was new to the area, to cross on his route had washed out during a 2013 flood in Hickory.
“No one wanted to take responsibility for this road, and Google had notice of this as well and continued to try to send people down this road before Phil was killed, at the time and even after,” Robert Zimmerman, an attorney representing the Paxson family, told NewsNation anchor Elizabeth Vargas.
Alicia Paxson describes the time she learned of her husband’s death as the worst day of her life.
“It was terrible. It was the worst day of my life,” Paxson told Vargas. “How do you keep going and putting the pieces together and still try to raise two girls? We miss him so much. He was such a great dad.”
Zimmerman said other drivers complained to Google about the collapsed bridge as early as 2020.
“There is no reasonable explanation in our mind,” Zimmerman said. “For years, Google knew about it, could’ve done something about it and didn’t.”
A spokesperson from Google told NewsNation affiliate WJZY, “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.”
The bridge is reportedly not maintained by local or state officials, and Zimmerman said community members have brought their own concrete blocks to the road in an attempt to block it off.
“At some point, the people responsible for the road put up a sign, that’s like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. It’s not going to stay there. It’s not going to fix the problem,” Zimmerman said.
The family has also taken legal action against a developer and a company that allegedly took over the assets from the developer.