October 30, 2012

More details emerge from bee attack that ended in the death of one hiker

About 3:45 p.m. on Monday, October 29, 2012, emergency crews received a call from a hiker who had witnessed another hiker fall about 150 feet after trying to swat away a swarm of bees, according to a report by The Arizona Republic.

Echo Canyon Trail - Chiricahua National Monument
Echo Canyon Trail - Chiricahua National Monument (Photo credit: Al_HikesAZ)
Joshua R. Ruzsa, 19, was hiking with his two friends near George’s Route and Icebox Canyon just off the popular hiking trail, Echo Canyon. When they began to climb up a steep wall, the bees began stinging the men. Rusza tried to climb to the top of the mountain to get away but lost his footing and fell to his death.

The other two hikers, about the same age as Ruzsas, found a nearby alcove in the mountain and covered their faces from the bee attack, according to the report. They curled up to try to protect themselves from the swarm, according to local officials, but were both stung at least 300 times each.

A helicopter brought rescuers, and one wearing a bee suit was lowered from the helicopter. He found the men curled up in the fetal position with bees swarming around them. The rescuer attached one man to the rescue bag that hoisted him up into the helicopter. The rescuer then remained below to care for the second hiker. The rescuer suffered several bee stings to his wrist and ankles.

He gave the second victim an EpiPen to stop the swelling , then placed a black bag over the man’s head to prevent more bee stings. Both victims were flown to the base of the Echo Canyon trail where rescue crews waited to transport them to a nearby hospital. Both are recovering from their injuries.

Officials said that bees live in the mountains and it is common for them to swarm if anyone kills or swats another bee. Officials encourage hikers to stay on trails and follow trail signs.
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