The dad passed away just after his daughter's ninth birthday party.
In what his wife described as an "avoidable tragedy", Philip John Paxson drove off a 'private road' in Catawba County when his GPS guided him to a bridge that was destroyed in 2013. Paxson's mother-in-law Linda McPhoee Koeing shared on Facebook on Oct. 3: Our family suffered a horrible loss Friday on September 30. My son-in-law, Phil Paxson lost his life returning home after celebrating his daughter's 9th Birthday in Hickory, North Carolina. It was a dark and rainy night and he was following his GPS which led him down a concrete road to a bridge that dropped off into a river. The bridge had been destroyed 9 years ago and never repaired. It lacked 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.
People in the area have been calling the spot dangerous and have complained about it for years in the hopes it will be fixed, reports WCNC. Philip John Paxson's body was found in a Jeep that crashed on the collapsed bridge. He was returning from his daughter's birthday party around 11 p.m. when the tragedy occurred. His friend Jon Hopson is the one who discovered his body the following day. “I pulled right where we are at and I saw the back tires of his jeep sticking up out of the water,” Hopson said. “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 the one to find him.” Now a memorial site has been made at the site of his death. A loved one said, “He didn’t fall off a bridge. He didn’t drive off a bridge. He drove to his death through that 20 ft ravine.” The father-of-two is being remembered as an outgoing and kind person who would do anything for anyone. “Everybody loved him, he was the life of the party," his wife Alicia Paxson said. "Always making jokes on people all the time and making people comfortable."
According to PEOPLE, his grieving widow took to Facebook several times to share 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 wrote in one post. She also spoke to Queen City News, asking, "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 never thought that was the last time she would see her husband. “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 of that dreadful night. “He took a left, and I took a right, and that was his mistake. One wrong turn, and now he’s gone.”
REST IN PEACE 🙏 | Philip Paxson died after his Jeep plunged into a creek; the bridge he thought he was taking had washed away in 2013. More: https://t.co/u2SKIloffO @MorganFrancesTV pic.twitter.com/ZU6GMdn4rr— Queen City News (@Queen_City_News) October 3, 2022
Cover Image Source: Bass-Smith Funeral Home & Crematory