8 Tales of Death and Disaster That Warn Us Not to Blindly Follow GPS
Jul 7, 2023   •   Kyzia Maramara
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Jul 7, 2023   •   Kyzia Maramara
Navigation apps are a #blessing. Who doesn’t whip out their phones and use these apps on the daily to get from Point A to Point B? They’re especially a huge help when you’re unfamiliar with the place you’re headed to — just a few taps and you can follow the directions to get there. But as much as it’s fun seeing it all play out like magic, should we place our whole trust in these apps? After all, it’s only been 18 and 14 years ago when Google Maps and Waze were launched respectively. The reality is that for some folks, relying too much on this kind of technology could be a matter of life and death. Here are 8 death and disaster by GPS stories we should all keep in mind.
In the summer of 2009, 28-year-old Alicia Sanchez and her 11-year-old son, Carlos, were driving through Death Valley National Park in California when her GPS directed her to an unfamiliar road. Alicia’s car, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, got a flat tire. With a useless car and a mobile phone without signal, all Alicia could do was wait for help. A park ranger arrived 5 days and discovered the car already axle-deep in the sand. Unfortunately, by that time, Carlos had already died from dehydration and extreme heat. Alicia, who was also severely dehydrated, was taken to the hospital and was in stable condition late the following day.
In 2011, a couple from British Columbia drove out to Las Vegas to attend a trade show but they never got there. Albert Chretien and his wife Rita unknowingly drove into Nevada’s wilderness, high into the Jarbidge Mountains as they followed their GPS. Rita survived for 48 days, consuming candy, trail mix, and snow, before rescuers found her. However, Albert went missing after he left to look for help. A pair of hunters found his body more than a year later.
Breaking Hickory- a driver is dead after going off a closed bridge overnight. Friends say they found him this morning along 24th Street Place NE. The highway patrol says the road is not state maintained and there were no barriers. Watch channel 9 for updates. pic.twitter.com/VdsXioX4HA
— Dave Faherty (@FahertyWSOC9) October 1, 2022
A bridge that has been inoperative since 2013 and an outdated GPS killed 47-year-old Phillip Paxson one night in 2022. He was coming home from his oldest daughter’s birthday party when he drove off a 20-foot ravine to his death. The Paxson family lamented the “preventable accident” saying a warning sign would’ve preserved Phillip’s life.
69-year-old Rita Murmura was shot to death in Brazil after Waze led her and her 70-year-old husband Francisco through a dodgy neighborhood. They were supposed to drive to a touristy spot in Niteroi but Waze led them to another street of the same name. Unfortunately, it was one of Brazil’s notorious slum areas. An unidentified person open fired 20 bullets at the couple’s vehicle. While Rita didn’t survive, her husband was unhurt and managed to drive away.
What happened to these Japanese tourists in 2012 is a prime example of why using navigation devices should always be coupled with common sense. The students set out to drive to North Stradbroke Island along the Australian coast when the GPS guided them through an area with thick mud. While they were stuck, the tide slowly rose, and they had to abandon their car. This embarrassing situation is enough to scare every driver into not relying too much on their GPS.
Here’s another example of why it’s important to use common sense while driving: A German driver was so faithful to his GPS, he followed it blindly into a pile of sand. Apparently, he also ignored a sign that read “closed for construction.” Fortunately, the driver and his wife were uninjured.
GPS is, once again, responsible for the near-death experience of three women when it failed to lead them safely to Scotty’s Museum in Death Valley. It led them into small dirt roads until they couldn’t find the highway when they attempted to go back. They ran out of gas, but miraculously spied a patch of green with three trailers and dirty well water. After three days, rescuers spotted them and brought them to safety.
In 2020, the grim fate of a teenager on an icy road in Russia made everyone question the reliability of navigation apps we’ve all come to depend on. Sergey Ustinov and Vladislav Istomin, both 18 years old, were traveling on Russia’s Kolyma Highway when Google Maps suggested a shorter route, a snow-covered road abandoned during the 1970s.
They eventually got stranded when a wooden spike punctured their car’s radiator. Forced to brave the -50 C weather and with no way to call for help (no cellular signal) Ustinov froze to death. Meanwhile, rescuers found Istomin in the nick of time and were able to take him to the hospital albeit with acute hypothermia.
Do you know other death and disaster by GPS stories? Share it with us!
Kyzia spends most of her time capturing the world around her through photos, paragraphs, and playlists. She is constantly on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and a great paperback thriller to pair with it.
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