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Mount Hopkins climber found dead, hanging from gear, after bee attack

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Mount Hopkins climber found dead, hanging from gear, after bee attack

By Maggie Vespa. CREATED May 7, 2013

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (KGUN9-TV) - It was a horrifying accident at the hands of Mother Nature.

A Tucson man on a weekend climb in the Santa Rita mountains was found dead Monday.  His body was hanging from his gear.
 
That's according to Santa Cruz County authorities.
 
They believe 55 year-old Steven Johnson, an avid and experienced climber, was scaling a cliff on Mount Hopkins, as early as Friday.
 
That's when a swarm of bees attacked, stinging him and his dog hundreds of times.
 
Authorities say it was a fatal, freak accident.
 
"Here is an experienced individual, in an area that he's probably very familiar with all of a sudden being attacked by a swarm of bees that he never, never expected," said Sheriff Tony Estrada.
 
Sheriff Estrada says after Johnson didn't show up to his job as a counselor Monday morning, his coworkers called police.
 
A friend and fellow rock climber headed to Mount Hopkins on a hunch, knowing it was one of Johnson's favorite spots.     
 
He found Johnson and his dog dead.
 
9OYS tried to reach out to Johnson's family, including his two adult sons, but we weren't able to speak to them.
 
Friends tell us they are shocked and saddened.