A row of black, brand new 100% electric “Tram'buses”, all stationary, at the Chronoplus bus depot located in Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantiques). This Monday morning, none of these new generation devices, which have been in service for less than a year in the Basque agglomeration, left the site. All morning, almost all of the employees found themselves there, looking serious, split between anger and sadness, having lost one of their own. "The anger is there because we lost a friend," says Jean-Marc.
Philippe Monguillot, 58-year-old bus driver, was violently attacked Sunday evening, while he was on duty, driving line 1, the main line of the network which links Bayonne to the seaside town of Biarritz. Transported to hospital, he was brain dead.
"It's a gratuitous assault," says one of his colleagues. The employees of the company, mainly bus drivers, are in shock. They point the finger at the skyrocketing incivilities and an upward trend with the end of confinement and the obligation to wear a mask in transport. "We have to fight to have it respected," says Laurent, 50, a driver. Over the past eight days, Philippe's colleagues have identified three violent attacks. "We set up a magnificent Tram'bus but behind the troops do not follow", explains Jean-Marc, a friend of the victim.
"We kept saying that one day there would be a dead man"
Drivers complain about the lack of safety on board these devices which operate 24 hours a day during the summer period. This Monday, the support of local elected officials, including the city mayor Jean-René Etchegaray, was not enough to reassure despite the promises of "rapid measures". "We thought we were still in a big village," concedes the elected official. In the assembly of employees gathered in front of the city councilor, a voice rises: “You are missing the plate! Frankly, you are disconnected! "" We kept saying that one day there would be a dead man! Shouts one of them. Laurent Weber, CGT union representative, explains, disappointed, that he has sent the message to management for several months: “We need more controls, more security. And to add worried: "If one leaves for work and one wonders if one will return the evening, it is not possible. "
Philippe, a tall fellow of 58, was greatly appreciated by his colleagues. "Philippe was a good guy, very dynamic, he didn't have his tongue in his pocket, he was someone who was charismatic". "A good Bayonnais, a good living", remembers Fabrice, also a driver. A local child, passionate about football, cycling and a fervent supporter of the Bayonne Rowing rugby club. "A big mouth", according to his friend Jean-Marc who still remembers skiing holidays with him and services at the bar at Trinquet Saint-André during the Bayonne celebrations. Known for his "big mouth", Philippe did not have to hesitate before opposing his future attackers. "He had to go there free of course without imagining for a second that it would end like this," said his friend.
Five individuals in police custody
According to the first elements of the investigation, it is 7:10 pm when the "Tram'bus" driven by Philippe stops at 26 boulevard du Bab, at the "Balishon" stop, located at the foot of a popular district of the city . There, an individual rides with a dangerous pit bull type dog. The individual would also not have a mask like four other passengers who were already inside. Philippe would have had a problem with one of them earlier in the day because he would have presented himself without a ticket. Philippe would then have gone out to force them to descend.
But very quickly the situation would have degenerated. The altercation would have taken place behind the bus stop and would have opposed it to this group of individuals. Then the driver reportedly set out to get back into his vehicle before being hit hard on the head by one of them. Philippe then collapsed on the ground. When help arrived a few minutes later, he was unconscious.
His friend Christophe learns the news and goes to the Bayonne hospital center with Philippe's partner. They understand that the situation is very serious. Philippe is in a state of brain death. On Sunday evening, the police from the Bayonne police station placed a man in police custody. Then four other individuals, this Monday, one of whom is suspected of being the author of the most violent blow which brought the victim to the ground. The police also called for witnesses.
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Father of three daughters, Philippe planned to retire in a year. "He worked all his life. He was already dreaming of his motorhome and driving on the roads in the Pyrenees, ”confides his friend Christophe, his blue eyes clouded with tears.