A California family is in mourning after a landscaper fatally struck homeless mother Christine Chavez, 27, and “destroyed” her body with a lawnmower as she slept in a local park last week.
An unnamed landscaper for Beard Brook Park was riding a John Deere tractor equipped with a pull-behind mower on July 8, when he “noticed a body in the grass he had already made a pass through,” Modesto police said, according to the New York Post.
Asleep in the tall grass — a spot she frequented since becoming transient three or four years ago — Chavez, who has a nine-year-old daughter, was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.
To make the heart-wrenching situation worse, Chavez’s family says investigators left parts of her flesh and skull strewn across the area.
“The police called my dad and told him that my sister was dead,” Esmeralda Chavez wrote on the GoFundMe page she started for her family. “My dad went to the scene when the police cars were gone. There he would find pieces of my sister’s skull with hair still on the floor and bones with chopped skin.”
“My dad called immediately to the police they came again and picked up the rest,” Esmerelda continued. “Mom came all the way from Arizona and wanted to see her daughter’s last moment spot. She and my siblings started finding more pieces. They were devastating.”
“They left big (pieces) of her all over the place, just covered up with the grass,” another of Christine’s sisters, Rosalinda, 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 (pieces) of her, is horrible.”
“Even when they go and pick up a dog from the street they take more time,” Rosalinda noted.
The 12-acre Beard Brook Park, acquired the day before Chavez’s death by nearby E&J Gallo Winery, is a haven for many of Modesto’s homeless, The Post reports.
Dez Martinez, CEO & founder of We Are Not Invisible, an organization that “seeks to serve the homeless community with compassion, protect their dignity, and empower them to gain housing and social opportunities. Join us in solidarity with the street family,” told ABC 10 that the handling of Chavez’s death has left her “speechless.”
“I’m still speechless. I’m still shocked that we’re actually still standing again for the fifth day in a row in the same spot where Christine took her last breath,” Martinez said. “And yet it’s still not cordoned off. It’s not taped off. There’s no one here to pick up the remaining parts that are still here.”
On Friday, a vigil was held in Christine’s memory.
The family, who has vowed to take care of Christine’s daughter, is now seeking “justice.”
“[I]t hurts so much that she was just sleeping, not doing any harm to anyone,” Esmeralda wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We know there’s a lot of homeless people out there and I can’t believe the driver of the tractor didn’t see my little sister laying on the floor. So I’m asking for help so we could be able to pay for a lawyer to fight this case and beat it.”
“She was only 27 years old,” Esmeralda wrote. “She barely turned 27. Please help to get Justice for Christine.”
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