Animal Attack Files Special ReportSpecial Report forwarded by AAF Correspondent: Jeff Dykes
from By The Associated Press, NY Times

HOME   Yellow Jackets Kill 2-Year-Old Boy

September 30, 1998

Animal Attack

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities are investigating why it took seven hours before paramedics were called to a mobile home park where a toddler was fatally stung more than 200 times by a swarm of yellow jackets.

The reasons for the delay in medical attention for 2-year-old Harrison Johnson aren't known yet, Sheriff's Detective Lisa Haber said Tuesday.

``The parents aren't answering any questions, which is making the investigation more difficult,'' she said.

Harrison and his parents, Kelly and Wylie Johnson, were visiting friends Glen and Nicole Van De Veere on Monday at the densely wooded mobile home park near Tampa when the attack happened.

The toddler was stung probably 75 times around the head and face and as many as 150 times on the body, Haber said. Experts estimated that as many as 1,000 insects attacked the boy.

Van De Veere said the toddler was in pain, but the adults never thought he was in serious danger until it was too late.

``Because he didn't appear to have any kind of trauma, we didn't do anything,'' he said. ``Obviously, he was itching and hurting because of the stings, but he had something to eat, had something to drink and was watching TV.

``When he started to vomit and things didn't look right, we called for help right away.''

The child was unresponsive when paramedics arrived and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. He died later at a hospital.

The Johnsons were acquitted in March after being charged with failing to report the 1996 death of a month-old girl whose parents were members of a religious sect in which they participated.

That couple, Rachael and Robert Aitcheson, face trial next week on charges of failing to report the death, failing to obtain medical attention for her, abuse of a dead body and abuse of their child, Alexus.

The religious group was described at the Johnsons' trial as disdaining governmental requirements like recording deaths and births and as one that avoids medical treatment.

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