Incorrect Directions From Waze GPS App Leads To Tragedy For Brazilian Couple

| by Karin Sun
A car parked in an Indian city at nightA car parked in an Indian city at night

Inaccurate directions on a Waze GPS app led an elderly couple traveling in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, into a dangerous neighborhood with tragic results. 

Regina Murmura, 70, and her husband Francisco, 69, were planning to meet their daughter for pizza in a touristy beach-side suburb of Rio on the night of Oct. 3, according to the Washington Post. Instead, their Waze cellphone app misdirected them to a nearby slum area run by drug gangs, where someone opened fire on their car. 

Regina, a travel agent, was killed in the shooting. Her husband escaped unharmed due to the fact that the bullets may have hit silver candlesticks in the trunk instead of him, the couple's daughter, Renata, told Brazilian news site G1, according to the Washington Post.

The murder occurred in the Caramujo slum neighborhood of Niteroi, a city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. Earlier in August, Brazilian actress Fabiana Karla narrowly escaped a similar fate when her car was shot at after GPS directions accidentally led her into the same neighborhood. 

Waze said they were "incredibly saddened" by the incident, and they plan to meet with Rio authorities this week to discuss what is being done about the risks of driving in the city. 

Waze, a free GPS application that can be downloaded onto smartphones, is widely used to help drivers navigate large, sprawling Brazilian cities like Rio, but it does not indicate dangerous or crime-ridden areas to users. 

"It is difficult to prevent drivers from navigating to a dangerous region if this is the destination selected because people who live in these areas need to get home," a Waze spokesperson said in an email to the Washington Post. 

The Waze misdirection that led to Regina's death occurred because the app had mistaken the street where the couple intended to go for another road with the same name in the Caramujo slum. 

Roughly 56,000 people are murdered in Brazil every year, according to statistics published in 2012 by the country's annual Map of Violence study. 

Sources: WGNTV, The Washington Post

Photo Credit: PDPics/Pixabay, Diego Russo/Flickr