A bus driver was left brain dead after a vicious gang-of-five refused to wear face masks and attacked the driver.
The attack, which occurred on a bus in France, was carried out by a group of passengers who did not want to wear the face coverings.
Philippe was the victim of the savage attack linked to the strict coronavirus measures.
In France, face coverings have been made compulsory on public transport in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly bug.
However, members of the group refused to put them on when they got on the vehicle – a cross between a bus and a tram run by the Chronoplus company – in the south west city of Bayonne on Sunday evening, at about 7pm, reports Mirror Online.
“They got on the bus without masks, and also refused to show a ticket,” a source said.
“The first to get on had a dog with him – they just assumed they could all get on and do what they want, but the driver had to do his job.
“When he stood up to them, a very unpleasant argument developed, and voices were raised and then the driver was attacked when everybody spilled out on to the bus platform.
“Philippe was punched and kicked repeatedly and then left with serious injuries, before the gang escaped.”
Philippe was rushed to a nearby hospital and placed in intensive care, before being declared “brain dead” on Monday.
Police meanwhile tracked down the 30-year-old man with the dog, who identified the other four attackers.
All were in custody in Bayonne on Monday, said a spokesman for Bayonne prosecutors.
A colleague of Philippe described him as a “decent and hardworking man who always looked after passengers.”
He added: “There has been a lot of tension over masks, because they are the law, but bus staff are not police, and we should not have to enforce the law.”
The Chronoplus colleagues said there had been three other assaults related to masks in recent days, but none as serious as the one involving Philippe.
Claude Olive, the Mayor of Bayonne, said meetings were in progress to try and improve security on buses.
“This was a barbaric attack,” said Mr Olive. “Philippe was a wonderful person who should have been protected.”
Masks became mandatory as France began to move out of Covid-19 lockdown towards the end of May.