This is such an incredibly sad story that is being reported out of North Carolina.
A 47-year-old husband and father of two had been spending time at his daughter’s birthday party in a rural area of North Carolina. When it turned dark, he decided to leave and used his GPS to get himself back home. That’s reasonable and something all of us would do without giving it a second thought. But after you hear this story, you may second guess how trusting you are in your GPS and your city, for that matter.
The man’s GPS led him on a route that included a washed-out bridge that dropped right into a river below. Since it was dark and there were signs indicating a “washed-out bridge,” the dad/hubby kept driving and ultimately plunged into the river below, where he died on his daughter’s 9th Birthday.
The New York Post reported:
A North Carolina man is dead after his GPS led him to a defunct bridge that dropped off into a creek on Sept. 30.
Philip Paxson, a 47-year-old father of two girls, had been driving his Jeep at night from his oldest daughter’s birthday party in Hickory when his GPS led him to a bridge that has been inoperative since heavy flooding in July 2013 destroyed it.
“It was a dark and rainy night and he was following his GPS which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river,” Paxson’s mother-in-law, Linda McPhee Koenig, said in a Tuesday Facebook post. “The bridge had been destroyed [nine] years ago and never repaired. It lacked any barriers or warning signs to prevent the death of a 47 year old [sic] father of two daughters. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. It was a totally preventable accident. We are grieving his death.”
Now, Paxson’s family is trying to bring attention to the tragedy they believe could have been avoided with proper maintenance or even just signage and barricades from the city warning drivers.
“This was a preventable accident, the bridge he went over at night had a gaping hole and there were no barricades,” a GoFundMe page titled, “Paxson family,” states. “It had been this way for many years. No one would take responsibility to repair it and now he has to pay the price. Please pray for our family during this most difficult time.”
Authorities with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to reports of an overturned vehicle in a creek near 24th Street Place Northeast — a private road — in Catawba County, according to WCNC.
“He didn’t fall off a bridge. He didn’t drive off a bridge,” a loved one at the site of the accident, where locals have established a makeshift memorial, told the outlet. “He drove to his death through that 20 [foot] ravine.”
A 2014 article titled “BRIDGE TO NOWHERE: No resolution in sight for neighborhood’s gaping hole,” published in the Hickory Record, stated that “the bridge is still in disrepair” eight months after the flooding had destroyed it in 2013. Nothing had changed in nine years.
You can watch the video below:
According to the report, signs that once indicated a “washed-out” bridge had also been washed away. It seems like somebody dropped the ball, and now a husband and father are dead, and that’s so tragic and sad.
I strongly feel that the family will sue the city, and I can’t say I blame them. I’d do the same thing.
The piece says that Mr. Paxson had a lifelong affection for muscle cars, motorcycles, dirt bikes, boats, and anything with a motor.
The obituary also read:
“He traveled the world with his father-in-law riding motorcycles. He and his wife and their two daughters enjoyed camping and boating with family and friends. Phil put his family first and his friends, almost equal, second,” the obituary states. “He was larger than life, always ready for an adventure, with a permanent smile.
He would give you the shirt off his back or talk you out of the one on yours.”
Rest in peace, Mr. Paxson, and we’ll be praying for your family.