A North Carolina man tragically lost his life after being led off a cliff by his GPS.
Phil Paxson was returning home from his daughter’s ninth birthday celebration last Friday in Hickory, N.C. on what his mother-in-law, Linda McPhoee Koeing, described as a “dark and rainy night” in a Monday Facebook post. His wife, Alicia Paxson, recalls in an FB message of her own how the two drove in separate cars to the event:
“When it was time to go, we packed up all the decorations, he packed up the van, and he loaded the girls into the van. He took a left, and I took a right, and that was his mistake. One wrong turn, and now he’s gone.”
Koeing explained in her post:
“He was following his GPS which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river. The bridge had been destroyed 9 years ago and never repaired.”
She noted the bridge didn’t have any “barriers or warning signs to prevent the death of a 47-year-old father of two daughters.” Unfortunately he apparently couldn’t see that the bridge just ended in the rainy night.
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The North Carolina State Highway Patrol was made aware the following morning, October 1, of a car in a river, according to WCNC. When authorities arrived at the scene, they discovered Phil’s 2020 Jeep Gladiator overturned and submerged in water. His body was recovered shortly after.
Alicia is calling the event “an avoidable tragedy,” citing articles over the past nine years of community members pleading for the bridge to be fixed. Queen City News confirmed the bridge had been washed away in 2013. The widow expressed to the outlet:
“How is it nine years that this did not happen, and why did it have to be him? Like, why do my kids have to have no dad now, you know? Who’s responsible? Somebody is responsible.”
N.C. State Highway Patrol claim there were once barriers to prevent drivers from danger but say they have since been moved. They also tell QC News the bridge was not controlled by local or state officials, and the Secretary of State shared via its website that the developer’s company, which had previously owned the property management, had been dissolved.
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Phil leaves behind his wife, daughters, parents, two sisters, a sister-in-law, and “many nieces and nephews,” according to his obituary.
“Phil put his family first and his friends, almost equal, second. He was larger than life, always ready for an adventure, with a permanent smile on his face, he would give you the shirt off his back or talk you out of the one on yours.”
His celebration of life is slated for October 8, and a GoFundMe has been created to help the family with funeral expenses. Rest in peace.
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[Images via Alicia Paxson/Facebook & WCNC/YouTube]
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