A 70-year-old man mowing his lawn in Texas died after he was attacked by a swarm of "very aggressive" bees, authorities said.
Firefighters with the Breckenridge Fire Department were dispatched to the scene of a bee attack on Monday, where the victim suffered severe stings and died after going into cardiac arrest, the department said in a press release.
"[Rescue teams] did everything they could to make this a positive outcome but multiple issues turned this into a tragedy," the release said.
The victim was identified as Thomas Hicks, whose wife Zoni said he'd been mowing the lawn when she stepped out to go grocery shopping, NBC affiliate KRBC reported.
"I said, 'Honey, please don't go back in the back area, because those bees are back there.' And he said, 'I won't, I promise,'" she recalled to the outlet.
Zoni said that when she returned home, she found Thomas jumping and screaming amid a swarm of bees that covered him from head to toe.
"They were stinging him all in the yard. He was running in the backyard, the side yard, the front yard, trying to get them off of him, but they were relentless," she told KRBC. "They just wouldn't stop. They were just everywhere, and they were stinging, and they clung to you."
Zoni said she tried to get Thomas inside the house, but doing so led the bees inside, too, so he went back outside. Eventually, she called 911 from inside their bedroom.
The fire department said that medics and firefighters had to trudge through a swarm of bees to enter the home, and that a firefighter removed their protective gear to give it to Zoni as she was removed from the scene.
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"I had to do CPR until they got here, and when they got there, they worked on him for over an hour," she told KRBC. "They realized that they couldn't bring him back, so I had to let him go… I just couldn't breathe, I mean, there goes the love of my life."
Zoni told the outlet that she and Thomas first met when they were 10 years old, and though they went on to marry other people, the duo reconnected 45 years later.
"I'm devastated. He was the love of my life," said Zoni, who was reportedly hospitalized after being stung multiple times.
Beekeeper Joey Venekamp helped the fire department track down the hive and remove it, the release said.
Breckenridge Fire Department
Venekamp told KRBC that the hive was found in a dead tree that was hollow inside, and was about 2 years old. He noted that the hive had about four or five queen cells inside, which likely agitated the bees.
"Once one of them stings, it's going to let off a pheromone and that's like a red flag to the other ones…best thing to do is take cover," he told the outlet.
According to ABC affiliate KTXS, he was able to subdue the approximately 60,000 insects with soap and water.