A tragic incident occurred on Saturday afternoon in Beard Brook Park, Modesto, as a woman was fatally struck by a landscaping crew’s lawn mower. The victim, identified as 27-year-old Christine Chavez, was sleeping on the grass when the crew unintentionally mowed over her. The incident has raised concerns about the safety of unhoused individuals in public spaces.
What Really Happened?
At approximately noon, employees from Grover Landscape Services were mowing the grass in Beard Brook Park when a crew member discovered Chavez’s body in the area already mowed. They immediately contacted emergency services, but Chavez was pronounced dead at the scene upon the arrival of law enforcement.
The tweet below verifies the news:
The day before, the park ownership was transferred from the city of Modesto to E.&J. Gallo Winery. https://t.co/IsQzKFlKqI
— The Sacramento Bee (@sacbee_news) July 13, 2023
During a Modesto City Council meeting, Dez Martinez from the homeless advocacy group We Are Not Invisible spoke on behalf of Chavez’s father. Martinez mentioned that Chavez, who was experiencing homelessness, had been sleeping on the grass when the tragic accident occurred.
Park Ownership Transfer and Previous Incident
Coincidentally, the transfer of ownership for Beard Brook Park from the city of Modesto to E.&J. Gallo Winery took place the day before the incident. The exchange aimed to facilitate the creation of a river walk along the Tuolumne River. It is important to note that the accident occurred shortly after this transition.
This unfortunate incident is not the first fatality involving unintentional harm to a homeless person during clean-up operations. In 2018, Shannon Bigley lost her life when a Caltrans employee operating heavy machinery accidentally crushed her while cleaning a homeless encampment along Highway 99.
Authorities are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. It remains unclear why the landscaper, operating a John Deere tractor with a pull-behind mower, failed to notice Chavez in the grass. Notably, Chavez was not inside a tent at the time of the accident.
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