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Hiker Dies After Killer Bee Attack In Arizona

| by Michael Howard

A 23-year-old man died after he was stung more than 1,000 times by bees during a hiking trip in Usery Mountain Park in Mesa, Arizona.

Alex Bestler, from Louisiana, was hiking the Merkle Memorial Trail at Usery Mountain Park with a friend on May 26 when, just after 9 a.m., a large swarm of bees appeared out of nowhere, according to AZCentral.

Bestler's friend managed to run away and find shelter in a nearby restroom, but Bestler was unable to escape the swarm, police said. Park employees found him lying on the ground covered in bees but reportedly did not approach him right away out of fear that they too would be attacked.

Two firefighters and a Sheriff's Office sergeant arrived on the scene and worked with the park employees to move Bestler onto a Sheriff's Office utility vehicle.

He was then transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Bestler's friend Elena Gail Collins lamented his death on Facebook.

"Such a sweet person who honestly just loved life," she wrote, according to the Daily Mail. "Praying for the family. Rest in sweet peace, Alex Bestler."

The bees are believed to have been Africanized honey bees, also known as killer bees, the Daily Mail reports. They are known for attacking people who enter their territory and can remain in an agitated state for up to 24 hours, during which time they are extremely aggressive.

A section of the Merkle Memorial Trail was closed to the public for the remainder of the afternoon.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio warned people to be vigilant.

"These attacks are becoming more frequent and I urge the public to be aware of their surroundings when out in these areas," he said in a statement.

Another bee attack occurred on the same day in Phoenix, resulting in the hospitalization of a 51-year-old man who Phoenix Fire officials said was allergic to bees, according to AZCentral.

In 2014, a 32-year-old landscaper was killed, and his colleague seriously injured, by a swarm of killer bees in Douglas, Arizona, the Daily Mail notes.

Sources: AZCentral, Daily Mail / Photo Credit: Mark Henle via AZCentral

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