Maskless Woman Denied Bus Entry, Gets Run Over By Same Vehicle And Dies In California
SAN JOSE - MAY 27: A VTA bus passes a public vigil on Thursday, May 27, 2021, at San Jose City Hall for victims of Wednesday's mass shooting at Valley Transportation Authority's maintenance yard in San Jose, Calif..
(Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

In the name of public health and safety, a California woman named Lucy Prieto Frescas, 59, recently died after being denied entry to a San Jose public bus because she refused to wear a face mask as policy mandates in Santa Clara County, California.

As the vehicle was departing, Prieto Frescas allegedly tripped and somehow fell underneath the bus, and was subsequently run over by the back wheels of that same vehicle. For its part, the San Jose Valley Transport Authority — which operates the bus in question — has claimed that the woman ran after the bus after safely stepping onto the sidewalk and fell under the wheels unbeknownst to the driver.

According to The Mercury News, the incident occurred on February 9, but the woman passed away from injuries this past Monday, February 21. Both the bus company as well as a brother of the woman are unclear as to what exactly happened during the conversation when Prieto Frescas was told she had to wear a mask, the local paper reported:

Stacey Hendler Ross, a VTA spokesperson, said the woman tried to board the Route 73 bus at the front door. When the driver told her she couldn’t ride, she returned to the sidewalk and as the bus pulled away she stepped off the curb and “chased after the coach and fell.”

“I don’t know the specific exchange between them except that she refused to put a mask on,” Hendler Ross said.

VTA bus drivers have had masks to share with riders during the pandemic although they often run out, said Armando Barbosa, a veteran driver.

The deceased woman’s brother, Rudolfo Frescas, gave slightly more detail about the situation, saying his sister had “difficulty with rules that lots of people normally had to abide by” and that it was a tragic end to “a pretty difficult life.”

According to the paper, Hendler Ross also said that the driver in question started this past summer and returned to work two days after the incident occurred after he passed a sobriety and drug test:

The bus driver had graduated from a driver training course in June and started operating the bus in July, Hendler Ross said. The driver returned to work two days after the incident once a drug and alcohol test came back negative and an initial VTA investigation deemed that he acted properly, she said.

“[The driver] didn’t know that the person was going to run after the bus behind him,” said Hendler Ross. “As far as he knew he pulled away from the curb in a safe manner.”

This death is the city’s 17th traffic fatality of the year, and the ninth to involve a pedestrian who died, according to Mercury News. VTA union president John Courtney added that “It’s a very confusing situation” because of the unclear mask mandate policies throughout the state.

“Passengers don’t always know they need to wear masks,” he added. In the state of California, masks are no longer required in most indoor and public settings but they are required on public transportation. In addition, Santa Clara County still mandates COVID-19 coverings in indoor settings as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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