HICKORY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A lawsuit is looming in the untimely death of a Hickory father of two.
Philip Paxson died when he drove his Jeep off a bridge that collapsed about a decade ago.
On Wednesday, his wife and her newly hired attorney spoke with Queen City News.
“I just don’t want people to think, or it to go down as just another accident,” said Alicia Paxson. “I want some answers and not just excuses.”
A week and a half ago, Philip Paxson left his daughter’s birthday party and never made it home.
It was raining very hard and was dark when he drove his brand-new Jeep over a bridge known as the ‘bridge to nowhere’ after it collapsed almost ten years ago.
It’s never been fixed.
“There will be a lawsuit that is filed,” said the family’s attorney Robert Zimmerman. “A hazard like this should have been immediately corrected.”
Now, Paxson’s family has hired wrongful death attorneys to investigate who is at fault.
“The owner really had three choices when this bridge flooded out,” Zimmerman said, “they could have fixed the problem, they could have barricaded the hazard, or they could have ignored it, and they chose the dangerous option.”
Queen City News has discovered finding the true owner responsible for bridge maintenance might not be as easy as it sounds.
“It certainly is a complicated history, as I’m sure you know,” Zimmerman said. “We know this dates back to the 1960s, and we’ve seen property records from the 1980’s talking about the proper ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the bridge,” he continued. “Since that time, we’ve seen some attempted deed transfers, so we are actually going to work with the real estate council to find the answer to that question.”
Monday night, attorneys sent demands to GPS companies to remove this section of 24th St. Pl. NE as a viable road option on their platforms.
While divers haven’t yet been able to find Paxson’s phone, his search history has been helpful.
“The answer is yes,” Zimmerman said. “We have information that he did, on the night of the incident, program into his phone GPS coordinates.”
What started as shock and sadness turned into anger and disbelief that this had to happen to a guy everyone seemed to love.
“[He was] funny, he was a prankster, he just had this gift to connect with people,” said his wife, Alicia.
Zimmerman says they have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but first, they have to determine who they’re going to sue, and finding the responsible party could take weeks or months.