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Valley man stung hundreds of times by ‘killer bees’

A 53-year-old man was stung hundreds of times by “killer bees” this afternoon after he disturbed a nest while operating a backhoe.

Authorities said the attack was like nothing they’ve seen before.

“My crews told me it was like something right out of a movie,” Clark County Fire Department spokesman Scott Allison said. “They’ve never seen anything like it in all their careers.”

The man, whose name was not released, was found in an empty desert lot next to the backyard where he had been working. Firefighters found him on all fours, shaking and covered in bees. Allison said he wasn’t wearing a shirt and had so many bees on his back that his skin wasn’t visible.

Firefighters used a hose to remove the bees from the man and he was taken to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus. He had trouble breathing when paramedics got to him, but he was given Benadryl and an IV and is expected to be fine, Allison said.

He was stung between 250 and 1,000 times on his face, arms and torso, Allison said. Hospital staff are working on removing the stingers, he said.

The man was working in a friend’s backyard on Spencer Street just north of Eldorado Lane, near Warm Springs Road, when he overturned a rock with a backhoe, exposing the nest of bees.

They began attacking the man, and he jumped off the backhoe and ran to the lot, Allison said. Another man he was working with, who was also stung several times, called 911.

County workers and a private bee removal specialist were called to handle the bees.

Allison said firefighters have responded to bee attacks before but had not encountered one so vicious.

“I don’t remember in all my years someone being attacked like this,” he said.

The Africanized honey bee, also known as “killer bees,” are more aggressive and more temperamental than European honey bees. They are believed to have moved into the Las Vegas valley around 1998 and now nearly every bee in the valley is believed to be Africanized.

Deaths by such bees are rare for humans, although in 1998 a rottweiler left on a leash in a backyard was killed by bees; in 2003, a horse in Pahrump also fell victim to an angry swarm.

In 2000, a 77-year-old Las Vegas woman was stung 500 times and survived.

Allison said running away from bees or jumping into a pool are bad ideas; they’ll chase you and, if you’re in a pool, they’ll wait for you to surface.

Instead, he said people should run into a structure, closing doors behind them.

Anybody who encounters a nest of bees should call authorities or a bee removal specialist.

 

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

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