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August 22, 2011

Google Map Kills Four Area Residents

In the spirit of Milan Kundera, this post is dedicated to our memory of Chicago's fictional young Antanas Rudkus, who drowned when he fell off a sidewalk into a deep puddle. That could never happen here, not today. Perhaps there is very little new under the sun.

Pittsburgh has been at a loss to explain Friday's deaths of four area residents, who drowned in rain while driving on routine city thoroughfares.

A host of city bureaus - Public Safety, Public Works, Emergency Readiness, PWSA, Alcosan - all express their regret at the loss of life and wonder what those people were doing, driving on the streets in the rain. Today's press conference shed light on an unexpected possible cause.

At a hastily called press conference, Mayor Ravenstahl reports that computer printouts found in both victim's vehicles indicate that Google Maps directed them to drive through the flooded route.

Mayor Ravenstahl is calling on Pittsburgh's tech community to assist residents in identifying unsafe Google directions that may put the resident in harm's way, with possibly fatal results. "We shouldn't lose any more people to Google's dangerous directions", he said. "Furthermore, over a year ago we asked Google to bring their big pipes to Pittsburgh, and there's no action yet. I'm not saying that their big pipes would have definitely prevented this tragic flooding; I'm just saying."

Mayoral spokesperson Joanna Doven said her smartphone research at a SouthSide WiFi hotspot shows that Google Maps is also offering directions in close proximity to Tepco's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which became radioactive months ago.

"This may be the tip of the tsunami", said Mayor Ravenstahl. "I think it's important for people to be cautious about where the Google might be taking them, and consider using the tried-and-true Colored Belts - they're for everybody, really - to safely drive around Pittsburgh. My family has used them for years, and nobody's ever drowned in the rain on the Red Belt, I think."

No Google spokesperson was available for comment.


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