A heartbroken father in California was forced to contact Google after he realised last week that the body of his murdered son could be seen on Google Maps. Kevin Barrera, who was only 14 at the time, was shot and killed in 2009. His killer has never been brought to justice.
Police in California have confirmed that a body was discovered near a railroad track on 15 August, 2009 in an address that roughly matches the area in which Barrera claims his son’s body was visible on Google Maps.
"When I see this image, it's still like that happened yesterday, and that brings back to a lot of memories," said his father Jose Barrera in an interview with local television station KTVU-TV in Oakland, California.
When contacted by Barrera regarding the issue, Google Maps made the unprecedented decision to remove the image.
"Our hearts go out to the family of this young boy...Google has never accelerated the replacement of updated satellite imagery from our maps before, but given the circumstances we wanted to make an exception in this case," said Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps.
According to CNN, the image – which was still accessible on the site yesterday – shows a police vehicle and a small group of people surrounding ‘a prone human form’ next to railroad tracks.
Although Google Maps has said that it will take eight days to replace the image, McClendon has been in touch with the Barrera family to “let them know we’re working hard on the update”.
"What's the point to show those pictures to the people, you know -- pictures of my dead son?" his father Jose Barrera said. "This is really painful to the whole family."
Google Maps has been subject to controversy since its implementation, including widespread rejection from the 240,000 German citizens who refused to allow their properties to be included on the site in 2010.