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from The Arizona Republic, thanks to Angela Dixon, special correspondent to The Animal Attack Files

Bees Attack Arizona Family

August 4, 1998

Bees attack Mesa family

Bees go after man's face By Jim Walsh The Arizona Republic August 4, 1998

An 88-year-old Mesa man was stung in the face Monday by a swarm of more than 100 bees in a scene straight from a bad science-fiction movie.

"I would describe him as having a hive of bees on his face. You could not see his eyes or his nose," said Mesa firefighter Chris Mapel. "It was like a hive being taken out of a tree and placed on his head." Chisha Chang, 88, was attempting to remove bees from a barbecue grill in his back yard at about 2 p.m. in the 1200 block of West Medina Avenue, when they attacked him, said Battalion Chief Gil Damiani of the Mesa Fire Department. Chang was wearing a plastic bag over his head, but it provided little or no protection, with bees flying under the bag to sting him, Damiani said. Susan Cote, of SRB Beekeepers, said the Valley is in "swarm season," with bees pollinating during the warm weather and more active than usual. "It's not something to take on yourself," said Cote, whose husband, Bill, was called to the scene. "If you don't know what you're doing, don't do it. Please don't try to do it yourself." Cote said it's too soon to tell if the bees were Africanized "killer bees," but she said their behavior was typical of an agitated honeybee hive. Bill Cote found a hive with about 70,000 bees attached to the grill. He was waiting until Monday night to remove the hive, hoping that the bees would calm down. Chang and his wife, Mann Hwa Chang, 72, who also suffered stings, were in good condition at Desert Samaritan Hospital. They were expected to be released late Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said. Their daughter, Chi Long Yu, 45, was stung twice but declined treatment, Damiani said. Mesa police Officer Ian Jarvis, the first to arrive at the Chang home in Dobson Ranch, was stung about a dozen times when he pulled the bag off Chisha Chang's face and took him into an enclosed porch, Mapel said. "The police officer did all the real work," the firefighter said. "He got him (Chang) out of the back yard and onto a patio. He did a heck of a job, even though he had no protective clothing like I did." When Mapel and his fellow firefighters arrived, they found Chang lying motionless on the patio, moaning in pain, with the bees attacking his face. Jarvis was standing nearby, with bees still attacking him. Mann Hwa Chang also was being stung and was trying to protect herself with a can of bug spray. "It was the most bizarre thing I ever saw," Mapel said. Damiani said bee stings are common, but attacks as severe as Monday's are highly unusual. Jarvis was taken to Mesa Lutheran Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Copyright 1998 The Arizona Republic

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