May 10, 2013

Death by Killer Bees

Mountaineer found dead hanging from cliff in climbing gear covered in BEE STINGSā€¦along with his loyal dog

A climber and his faithful dog have perished in Arizona after they appear to have been attacked by killer bees as he scaled a cliff.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office says that 55-year-old Steven Johnson, a counselor with some 30 years experience hiking and climbing was found dead, hanging 70-feet from the ground in his climbing gear in the Santa Rita Mountains on Monday night.

The cause of death has not been determined yet, but officials said that Johnson was covered in bee stings when he was found while his dead dog was discovered at the top of the cliff.

Johnson was last seen Friday when he went hiking, and friends became worried when he didn't go to work on Monday.

Sheriff's Lt. Raoul Rodriguez says Johnson may have disturbed bees by hammering a spike into the cliff.

Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said the 55-year-old man was found hanging from his climbing gear on a cliff near Mount Hopkins

'He had anchored himself to the wall as he was going down so he was actually anchored and he must have been attacked and was not able to climb back up or go back down,' said Rodriguez.

He said Johnson's dog had also been attacked by bees and was found dead nearby.

Johnson is described as a father, climber and friend, who was well-liked throughout the climbing community in Southern Arizona.
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Once stung, the bee releases a pheromone that attracts other bees to attack - which is why most African bee attacks are in swarms.

Condolences to his family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at May 10, 2013 1:27 AM | Permalink