In a terrifying incident straight out of a horror movie, a man was hospitalized after being stung by 20,000 bees and remains in a medically-induced coma while recovering from the attack. Austin Bellamy, 20, cut into the bees nest while he was standing on a ladder and trimming a tree. "When he started cutting them, that's when the bees came out, and he tried to anchor himself down, and he couldn't," says grandmother Phyllis Edwards. Bellamy is on a ventilator at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center as of Tuesday night, after almost losing his life. Here's what happened.
A Terrible Accident
Bellamy was trimming the branches of a lemon tree when he accidentally cut into a bees nest. He was accompanied by his grandmother and his uncle, Dustin Edwards, who couldn't help him as they were under attack by the bees too. "He was hollering, 'Help! Help me! Help!' And nobody would help him," Phyllis Edwards said. "I was going to try and climb the ladder to get to Austin … I seen how high he was … but I couldn't get to him because I was surrounded in bees."
"Like a Black Blanket"
Bellamy's mother Shawna Carter says she passed out when she heard what happened. "It was just too much for me to take," she said. "It looked like he had a black blanket on his head down to his neck, down to his arms."
He Ingested 30 Bees
Horrifyingly, Carter says her son was not only stung thousands of times but also ingested around 30 bees as well. "So he had bees inside of him, and they suctioned bees out of him until Sunday morning," she said. Carter credits a Ripley Fire Department firefighter by the name of Craig for saving her son's life. "When I think of Craig, Craig is a life-saver," she said. "He's Austin's angel. He saved Austin's life."
A Full Recovery Is Expected
Thankfully a full recovery is expected for Bellamy. Others have not been so lucky—according to the CDC, there were 1,109 deaths from hornet, wasp, and bee stings between 2000–2017, and attacks are on the rise. 80% of those who die are men. "If you are attacked by several stinging insects at once, run to get away from them. (Bees release a chemical when they sting, which may attract other bees.)" says the CDC.
How To Prevent Bee Attacks
Experts say never to swat at bees—they might take it as an attack. The best thing to do is run away from them as quickly as possible. "You often read things like 'avoid floral-scented perfumes and deodorants,' but that's a bunch of malarkey," says Justin Schmidt, an insect behaviorist at the Tucson-based Southwest Biological Institute. "The primary sensory modality for insects is odor but there is absolutely no experimental evidence that smelling like a flower attracts bees. Just be sensible for heaven's sake. Pay attention to posted warnings. Wear light colors. And if you see bees, get away from them."