HICKORY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A truly heartbreaking story.
In Hickory Friday night, a father of two died after his Jeep plunged into a creek.
The bridge he thought he was taking had washed away in 2013.
“How is it nine years that this did not happen, and why did it have to be him?” said the victim’s wife, Alicia Paxson. “Like, why do my kids have to have no dad now, you know?”
Alicia Paxson is still trying to wrap her head around the death of her husband, 47-year-old Philip Paxson.
“Who’s responsible? Somebody is responsible,” Alicia said.
Philip and his family celebrated their daughter’s birthday Friday night at a nearby friend’s house.
It’d be the last time they all saw him.
“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 recalled. “He took a left, and I took a right, and that was his mistake. One wrong turn, and now he’s gone.”
Friends and family believe Phil’s GPS took him down 24th Street Pl NE in Hickory.
It’s a road where this bridge washed away in 2013.
It was rainy and dark, and with no barriers to stop him, Paxson flipped the Jeep he bought three days prior into the creek below.
“It could have been them,” a family friend said. “It could have been the girls. Usually, they all drive together and thank God that night they were not.”
Grief has turned to anger and frustration. NC State Highway Patrol says it isn’t a state or locally owned road.
According to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission’s website, a developer with retained title to streets is liable under state law for erosion control and possibly civil damages if injuries result from lack of maintenance.
Some believe it’s the original developer’s responsibility, but the secretary of state’s website says the company dissolved years ago.
A local property management company says their predecessor was the original developer, and they’re meeting with their attorneys tomorrow to determine who is responsible for this road.