Sleeping woman ran over by lawnmower at park

Last week, a homeless mother in California was tragically killed when she was run over by a lawnmower. According to her family, the aftermath of the incident was made even more difficult by the fact that investigators left “chunks” of her body scattered across the grass in Beard Brook Park in Modesto.

At noon on July 8, an unidentified worker on a John Deere tractor with a pull-behind mower swept the area, and only noticed the woman, 27-year-old Christine Chavez, after already making a pass through the grass. Emergency services were called, but Chavez was already dead when they arrived.

Rosalinda, the victim’s sister, said that the clean-up of the scene was disrespectful, as “big chunks” of her sister were left in the grass. Her father, Christopher, said that he was able to pick up pieces of her bones, skull, and teeth in the days after her death. The family believes that this careless handling of her remains may have been because she was homeless.

Chavez, who had a 9-year-old daughter, had been living on the streets for the last three or four years, and was often seen sleeping in Beard Brook Park. The park had been acquired by nearby E&J Gallo Winery the day before her death, and had previously been an authorized camping site for the area’s homeless.

According to reports, Chavez had been washing her hair in the park’s creek before going to sleep near the playground and baseball field, when the mower came through about 20 minutes later.

The family of Chavez is now seeking justice for her death, and for stronger city ordinances that protect homeless people. Her brother, Randy, said that she was loved, and only wanted to be free. He said, “We want ordinances to change so it doesn’t happen again. Regardless if they are homeless they are still people and should be treated the same as any other people.”