PHOENIX — A 23-year-old Louisiana man died after being attacked by bees Thursday morning as he and a friend were hiking within Usery Mountain Park in Mesa, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said.
A medical exam determined the man had been stung more than 1,000 times, officials said.
Just after 9 a.m., Alex Bestler and his friend were hiking the Merkle Trail when a large swarm of bees appeared without warning.
The friend was able to safely make it to a nearby restroom, but Bestler was overtaken by the swarm before he could find shelter, the Sheriff's Office said.
Another hiker and park employees approached Bestler and found him on the ground covered in bees. They tried to approach him, but the aggressiveness of the bees forced them to stay back, the Sheriff's Office said.
Two Rural Metro firefighters, a Sheriff's Office sergeant, park employees and the other hiker were able to move him onto a Sheriff's Office utility-terrain vehicle, despite Bestler still being covered in bees.
Bestler was transported to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The area on Merkle Trail where the incident took place was closed to the public Thursday afternoon for evaluation, the Sheriff's Office said.
“These attacks are becoming more frequent and I urge the public to be aware of their surroundings when out in these areas," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a statement.
Another bee attack on Thursday afternoon, this one in Phoenix, sent a 51-year-old man with numerous bee stings and respiratory distress to a hospital.
Phoenix Fire officials said the man was experiencing periods of unconsciousness, and he was believed to be extremely allergic to the bee stings.