Death By Trust

It took quite a few mistakes, varieties of wrongful conduct, incompetence and negligence to kill Phil Paxson. He was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party in Hickory, North Carolina, using a GPS to guide himself through a dark and rainy night. But the GPS hadn’t been updated for a while: Phil was going to get around to it, but never did. The GPS directed him to take a bridge that was no longer there: it had been washed away in a storm nine years ago. It still wasn’t repaired because the state of North Carolina and the city of Hickory couldn’t, or wouldn’t, agree on who should pay for it.

While they were debating, kids kept stealing the warning signs and barriers, like the young Addams Family son above. There was no barrier or warning as Phil drove along, following the dulcet tones of the GPS lady.

So he plunged into the river to his death on September 29, 2022.

The Unibomber would have something to say about our dependence on technology, and how dangerous it is to rely on machines. Relying on government bureaucracies is even more dangerous. Apparently we also can’t rely on families, schools, churches and society to install the most basic ethics alarms in our young, like the one that pings when they think, “Hey, that ‘STOP! Bridge Out!’ sign would look cool in my room!”

Phil Paxon was killed by an excess of trust.

8 thoughts on “Death By Trust

  1. A steel barrier across the roadway will stop vehicles. Signs are of little use if they cannot be installed in a manner that eliminates their theft.

  2. Or concrete Jersey barriers (which I’m certain the state, county, and city involved all have had access to in the intervening NINE years). Any kid that can steal one of those deserves to keep it.

    Maybe you could forgive them just putting a sign up at first. After the first sign was stolen, however, one might expect that a more theft-proof solution would be sought. Utter incompetence.

  3. For all intents, that bridge was permanently closed. Accordingly, a more permanent barrier should have been placed to prevent vehicular access. We’ll soon hear of a lawsuit.

    • Additionally, i discovered that this bridge and the road leading to it was not state maintained because it’s private property. And it’s also not within the Hickory city limits either.

    • If it’s privately owned, then there’s also a chance that updating the data in the GPS wouldn’t have necessarily picked up the fact of the bridge being washed away/closed.

      I suppose anyone with the same brand/model of GPS device can confirm or deny that though (with the caveat that it’s also possible that the data regarding this particular bridge was updated after-the-fact as a result of this incident).

  4. I think it’s Unabomber, for University and Airline bomber. The guy has quite a cult following; I suppose it’s mostly from people who haven’t found meaning in life and decide to blame the switched on world in which we live rather than continuing the search for personal meaning. I think he has a point about relying too much on electronic devices to the exclusion of everything else. But I don’t think the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have, in fact, been disastrous.

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