Dad of 2 Dies in Crash After GPS Directs Him Off the Edge of Bridge That Was Washed Away in 2013

A North Carolina father died just after his daughter's ninth birthday party, when his GPS guided him to a bridge that was destroyed in 2013.

On Sept. 30, Phil Paxson was heading home after his daughter's celebration in Hickory, North Carolina, on a "dark and rainy night," his mother-in-law Linda McPhoee Koeing shared on Facebook on Oct. 3.

"He was following his GPS which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river," she continued. "The bridge had been destroyed 9 years ago and never repaired."

Koeing said that the bridge also didn't have any "barriers or warning signs to prevent the death of a 47-year-old 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," she wrote.

RELATED: Orlando FreeFall Ride to Be Removed Following Teen's Death: 'It's a Little Piece of Justice,' Says Dad As many of you may have heard my sister Alicia Paxson lost her husband Phil Paxson in a tragic accident. He had two young daughters who are now fatherless. This As many of you may have heard my sister Alicia Paxson lost her husband Phil Paxson in a tragic accident. He had two young daughters who are now fatherless. This


His widow, Alicia Paxson, shared photos of the bridge on her own Facebook page, pointing out in one post that her husband's death was "an avoidable tragedy." She also shared articles that date back to 2014 about families urging the bridge to be fixed.

"This was a known hazard. 2014!! Just an accident waiting to happen. Phil had to lose his life to bring awareness," she continued.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said it was alerted to a car in a creek on the morning of Oct. 1, Charlotte, North Carolina's NBC affiliate WCNC reported. Officers arrived to find that Phil's 2020 Jeep Gladiator had flipped upside down and was underwater.

Phil Paxson Obituary
Phil Paxson Obituary


The state's highway patrol said that barricades to warn drivers about the faulty bridge were previously there, but they appeared to have been moved.

Phil's body was recovered from inside the vehicle and authorities believe the accident happened at 11 p.m. on Friday.

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Phil Paxson Obituary
Phil Paxson Obituary


According to Queen City News, the bridge had washed away back in 2013.

"How is it nine years that this did not happen, and why did it have to be him?" Alicia questioned to the outlet. "Like, why do my kids have to have no dad now, you know? Who's responsible? Somebody is responsible."

She shared how on that fateful night, they had a barbecue at a friend's house for their daughter's birthday.

"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," she said. "He took a left, and I took a right, and that was his mistake. One wrong turn, and now he's gone."

One family friend also told the outlet, "It could have been them. It could have been the girls. Usually, they all drive together and thank God that night they were not."

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When it comes to who's liable, the North Carolina State Patrol said the bridge was not controlled by local or state officials, according to QC News. The Secretary of State said via its website that the developer's company was previously dissolved.

A property management company, whose previous owner was the initial developer, sat down with their legal team earlier this week, QC News reported.

The North Carolina Highway State Patrol did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

A GoFundMe campaign for his funeral services has raised nearly half of its $50,000 goal.

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Phil leaves behind his wife and their two daughters, as well as his parents, two sisters, a sister-in-law, and a host of nieces and nephews, his obituary shared.

"This precious family lost a wonderful father, husband, son, and son-in-law," it added, noting his love for dirt bikes, boats, muscle cars, and "really anything with a motor."

"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," it said in part.

His celebration of life is scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 8.