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Nogales man dies after killer bee attack

Nogales man dies after killer bee attack

CREATED Jul 12, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) --   Diego Lezama couldn't believe what he was witnessing at a scrapyard in Nogales. "I just saw them run and they had bees behind them and rags and they were screaming and yelling," said Lezama.

Bees were attacking workers near discarded trailers and trucks at the scrapyard. It all started when 75-year-old Ramon Figueroa Rascon was helping to clean up trash and debris. Little did he know when he moved an old tire, he would disturb a bee hive underneath.

Nogales Fire Dept. Division Chief Gerry Castro said, "We received a call that several people were being attacked by bees."
 
But firefighters had a battle on their hands because these were not just any ordinary bees -- they were Africanized "killer" bees.

Lezama described what he saw during the attack, "At the same time, (firefighters) were getting attacked. They were taking off their clothes and at the same time they were pushing the guy into the ambulance."

But Rascon did not survive the bee attack.

Castro said, "The swarm of bees got very aggressive for our fire personnel as well. About 4 or 5 got stung by bees."

He said firefighters have responded to bee attacks before, but to nothing like this. "It's very unusual. When we respond we usually find the beehive where we can call a beekeeper or pest control to take care of the problem. But in this particular incident, they were very, very aggressive," said Castro.

Lezama said, "They just kept coming at you. You'd swing them away and there'd be more."

Several people were treated and released from the hospital. Castro said all the bees have been removed from the area.