Hiker Dies After Being Smothered by Bees in Arizona

Louisiana man received more than 1K stings during hike on Mesa trail
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2016 7:43 AM CDT
Hiker Dies After Being Smothered by Bees in Arizona
Beware of the bees, especially in the Southwest.   (Shutterstock)

A young man from Louisiana surrounded by bees during a hike in a Mesa, Ariz., park died from what a medical exam says was 1,000-plus bee stings. Alex Bestler, 23, was hiking the relatively easy Merkle Memorial Trail in Usery Mountain Park around 9am Thursday with a woman IDed simply as Sonya when the bees swooped down "without provocation or warning," says a press release from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. It notes Sonya was able to escape by fleeing to a restroom, but Bestler was overcome by the insects, whose "hostility" also kept bystanders and park employees at bay, the Arizona Republic reports. A group was finally able to get Bestler, "still covered with bees," into a police vehicle and to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A note on the park's website Thursday morning indicated the trail and its vicinity had been closed due to "aggressive bee activity," the Washington Post reports. "These attacks are becoming more frequent and I urge the public to be aware of their surroundings when out in these areas," a statement from Sheriff Joe Arpaio warned. The Post backs up Arpaio's claim, noting that bee attacks have been increasing in the Southwest, with Africanized bees (aka "killer bees") responsible for some of the most aggressive strikes, though it hasn't been said yet what kind of bees were involved in Bestler's case. "They hate any movement, noise, or vibration," an Arizona bee removal expert told the AP after a spate of Africanized honeybee attacks last year. "They hate everything." (A woman in Wales had her own terrifying bee experience—for two whole days.)

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