US dad on late-night drive after party for kid falls to death where bridge was washed away years ago, Latest World News - The New Paper

US dad on late-night drive after party for kid falls to death where bridge was washed away years ago

A family in the US state of North Carolina celebrated a child’s birthday with a barbecue at a friend’s place.

Then they left in two vehicles, Mr Phil Paxson, 47, in a jeep, and his wife and two daughters in a van.

He never made it home.

His body was found in the vehicle the next day, in a river where a bridge had been destroyed in a flood years ago.

It is believed that he was following GPS, which led him down the private road where the bridge used to be.

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

Local police said the accident happened around 11pm on Sept 30.

It was a "dark and rainy night," according to Mr Paxson’s mother-in-law Linda McPhoee Koeing.

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

It was Mr Paxson’s friend Jon Hopson who found the partly submerged vehicle last Saturday morning.

“I saw the back tires of his jeep sticking up out of the water,” Mr Hopson was quoted as telling local media. “It was the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life. I was the last person to talk to him, cooked his last meal and was the one to find him.”

A screenshot of Mrs Paxson’s Facebook page.

Residents in the town of Hickory had raised the issue of the missing bridge after it was washed away in 2013 and had called for action to prevent just such an accident.

The authorities did not get involved because it was reportedly on a company’s property, though it appeared that ownership - and responsibility for the tragedy - could not easily be established.

There used to be a barrier where the road dropped off into the river but that seemed to have been removed.

Mrs Paxson said: "This was a known hazard… Just an accident waiting to happen. Phil had to lose his life to bring awareness.”