Relatives of 47-year-old Philip John Paxson say that he died after his GPS led him to a bridge that had been washed away about nine years ago.
Paxson, of North Carolina, died on September 30 while going back home after attending his daughter’s ninth birthday party.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol stated that he drove off a collapsed bridge, about 20 feet down, near the city of Hickory, close to 11 p.m. The bridge has been shut down since 2013 when it fell after a culvert washed it out.
Relatives of Paxson say that he wasn’t aware of the washed-out road. His wife, Alicia Paxson, says that their daughters, 6 and 9, rode along with Philip to the party, but they went back home with her.
When Alicia woke up the next day, her husband wasn’t home. A family friend, John Hopson, discovered Paxson’s overturned Jeep Gladiator in a creek a few hours later.
According to reports, there were no barriers informing drivers that the bridge was no longer usable.
“Somebody should have put up some kind of barrier or barricades in this area. The developer, this is private property. It is not state-maintained,” said a spokesperson for the highway patrol.
Authorities also say that prior barricades had been tampered with or destroyed.
“Seems like minimal action could have saved his life. Nobody wanted to take responsibility. I don’t understand how over nine years this could be like this,” Alicia added.
Officials with the highway patrol said that they are in contact with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to install barriers close to where the bridge washed out.
A GoFundMe page for Philip Paxson’s funeral expenses has already garnered over $50,000.