California Mother Killed By Lawnmower, Family Demands Justice

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After a California woman was killed by a lawnmower, the woman’s family began demanding justice from the city over the tragic death. Was the city responsible? You decide.

Christine Chavez
Christine Chavez (Photo Credit: Facebook)

The body of 27-year-old Christine Chavez — or what was left of it — was found in Beard Brook Park in Modesto, California after a landscaping contractor called 911. According to the landscaper, he “noticed a body in the grass he had already made a pass through,” Modesto police said, but nothing could have prepared first responders for what they would find when they arrived at the scene. Even more troublesome, however, was what her family discovered in the park days after her death.

According to The Blaze, Christine Chavez was a transient. Like many of the city’s thousands of homeless residents, she often slept in the 12-acre park. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what she was doing around noon on a fateful Saturday when she was run over by the unidentified landscaper, who was hired by the city of Modesto. Christine was reportedly sleeping in a patch of dry, overgrown grass when the landscaper allegedly ran her over while driving a John Deere tractor with a pull-behind mower.

Beard Brook Park in Modesto, California (Photo Credit: Google Maps)

After 911 was called, first responders arrived and Christine was pronounced dead, leaving behind a 9-year-old daughter. The worker explained that he didn’t see the sleeping woman until he saw her body after already running her over. “In a dry, overgrown area, our operator discovered the body of a woman impacted by the pull-behind mower, at which time he contacted the Modesto Police Department,” Grover Landscaping Services, Inc. said in a statement.

When police made Christine Chavez’s father aware of his daughter’s death, the family headed to the park, already knowing where to go despite not getting any more details from authorities. There, family members said they made a grisly discovery that compounded their grief, seeing what they called a disrespectful, botched clean-up that left Christine’s body parts “all over the place,” according to NY Post.

Christine Chavez
Christine Chavez (Photo Credit: GoFundMe)

“They left big chunks of her all over the place, just covered up with the grass,” Christine’s sister, Rosalinda Chavez, told Fox 40. “We have to go see the place because we wanted some kind of closure, and to be right there, looking at the ground, and then all of a sudden, seeing chunks of her, is horrible,” she explained. “Even when they go and pick up a dog from the street they take more time.”

Disturbingly, Christine’s father, Christopher Chavez, said he was able to pocket pieces of his daughter’s bones, skull, and teeth from the park in the days after her death. “There were many pieces of (her remains) around there, and I called the police. I went there, and I still have pieces of bones, like pieces of her skull and some teeth,” he said. “It’s terrible.”

Christopher Chavez (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Following the tragic end of Christine’s life, her family was left reeling and asking for more care and compassion for homeless people. Believing that the careless handling of her remains might be because she was one of the city’s thousands of homeless residents, the Chavez family has demanded justice. “I am sad for what happened to my daughter, and we want justice for the way that she died,” Josefina Chavez, Christine’s mother, said.

Christine’s older brother Randy shared similar sentiments, saying Christine “didn’t deserve that for that reason, for being homeless” and that his sister, who only wanted “to be free,” was loved. “We want ordinances to change so it doesn’t happen again,” Randy Chavez demanded. “Regardless if they are homeless, they are still people and should be treated the same as any other people.”

Christine Chavez
Christine Chavez (Photo Credit: TikTok)

At a Modesto city council meeting after the tragedy, Dez Martinez, the founder of the Fresno-based homeless advocacy group We Are Not Invisible, also demanded change. Martinez, who had been in touch with the Chavez family, said she hopes the tragedy spurs the city to create safer spaces for unhoused individuals in the area.

“What I would advocate for right now in Modesto is a safe camping site, immediately. Safe camping for people who want care, who want help,” Martinez said. “They need to be safe from being raped, safe from being murdered, safe from being beat up, safe from being run over. What if she had a safe camp to go to? Would she have to lay down right there to sleep?”

Ironically, the 12-acre park, which is frequented by unhoused people, was once an authorized camping site for the area’s homeless before it switched ownership from the city to private. In fact, it was only officially acquired by nearby E&J Gallo Winery when the transfer was completed on the day before the tragic death, according to the Modesto Bee.

While some question how the landscaper didn’t see the woman and allege he must not have been doing his job properly, others question how the victim didn’t hear the loud lawnmower in plenty of time to get out of its way. Regardless, it is a terrible accident that could have been prevented had the new owners alerted the homeless, who had been camping on the site, before initiating cleanup. But, hindsight is always 20/20, so maybe the best remedy for such tragedies would be for California to get its homeless problem under control.