French bus driver dies after ‘barbaric’ attack over face masks

A French bus driver has died five days after being viciously beaten during a dispute over wearing face masks, his family announced Friday.

Philippe Monguillot, 58, was initially left brain dead after he confronted a group of passengers who were not complying with a rule that requires face masks on public transportation when they boarded without tickets around 7 p.m. Sunday in Bayonne in south-west France.

The passengers dragged him off the bus and onto the platform, where he was kicked and beaten by the group before they fled.

Monguillot’s family and care providers decided it was best to take him off life support.

“We decided to let him go,” Monguillot’s daughter Marie told AFP news agency Friday, adding doctors had agreed with the decision.

Five male suspects face charges in the attack, though their names have not been released.

Two men, ages 22 and 23, have been charged with attempted murder, two others with non-assistance to a person in danger and another with attempting to hide a suspect, the BBC reported.

Flowers left for Monguillot in Bayonne.
Flowers left for Monguillot in Bayonne.EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

The group attacked Monguillot after he asked three of the men to put on face masks. France has instituted a nationwide face-covering mandated for public transit.

The mayor of Bayonne condemned the “barbaric act,” which sparked a massive protest in the city where thousands marched for the driver, according to the BBC.

Regional bus service was severely disrupted after the beating when drivers refused to work.

As Monguillot clung to life, his wife, Veronique, said the couple’s lives have been “destroyed” by the tragedy.

“He can’t leave us like this, he was going to be 59 years old soon,” she told Le Parisien. “No, you don’t do this over a bus ticket. You don’t kill for free like this.”


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