Woman says Google Maps detour led drivers into middle of desert

LAS VEGAS (FOX5/Gray News) – What was supposed to be a shortcut through the desert ended up turning a trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles into a 14-hour ordeal for one California woman.

For Shelby Easler’s brother, it resulted in his car falling apart, around $5,000 in damages to the vehicle and a tow back to Las Vegas.

It’s a cautionary tale not to blindly follow navigation systems.

“Ironically, we actually thought we were taking the safer route home,” Easler, of Santa Monica, California, explained.

Easler, along with her brother, boyfriend and another friend, ended up somewhere far into the desert outside of Jean, Nevada.

“It said there was a dust storm warning on the I-15, so there was an alternate route that had popped up to take a detour,” Easler recounted.

Easler, like many Southern Californians who came up to Las Vegas for the Formula 1 race, wanted to get back as fast as possible. GPS mapping on their phones told them a detour off the closed interstate around the dust storm would save them 50 minutes.

“We’d never driven to Vegas before. None of us knew that I-15 is really the only way you can take back and forth,” Easler shared.

The group drove for about two hours out of Las Vegas until they hit a gravel road.

“I was trying to sleep in the back, unsuccessfully. The minute we hit the gravel road, I’m like, ‘It’s so bumpy in here. What is going on?”, Easler recalled.

Though Easler thought it was strange, there was a line of cars going the same way. The road got much rougher and then disappeared into open desert.

“It was so uneven that the car was like sideways half the time,” Easler said.

A truck at the front of the line of what Easler said was about 100 cars got to a point where it could go no further.

“This guy is like in a giant truck, just driving straight through the bushes to come to tell us to turn around,” Easler stated.

Some cars couldn’t turn around and got stuck.

Easler eventually called 911.

“They did say though that this actually does happen a lot with Google Maps detours, and they are like, ‘You know if Google Maps tells you to take a detour, don’t do it because you are going to end up in sand. We get calls like this a lot,’” Easler shared.

KVVU reached out to Google about the incident. They sent this statement:

“We apologize for the incident that happened last weekend and can confirm that we’ll no longer route drivers traveling between Las Vegas and Barstow down those roads.”

Last year, Nevada’s Silver Alert changed following death of an Indiana man. A couple road-tripping through Nevada went missing for a week and the 72-year-old man did not survive. GPS led them astray up a mountain in the area of Silver Peak where their RV then got stuck in the mud. Their family reported the couple missing on March 29, but it wasn’t until April 4 that a Silver Alert was finally issued.

Kim Passoth

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