Friday 20 January 2017

Truck couple attacked by bee swarm

Published 25/10/2011 | 04:51

About 25 million bees caused havoc on Interstate 15 in Utah after a lorry crashed
About 25 million bees caused havoc on Interstate 15 in Utah after a lorry crashed

Truck driver Louis Holst normally ferries lumber and building materials, but this job had a sting in the tail - or more accurately, about 25 million.

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Mr Holst and his wife Tammie had picked up 460 beehives in South Dakota and were about 36 hours into their drive on Sunday night when he hit a sharp bend in a construction area on Interstate 15 in southern Utah.

The twist in the road toppled his trailer and sent the bees into a frenzy.

"First responders came and drug me and my wife through the front window," Mr Holst said. "Then we panicked."

Swarmed by bees on the highway, Mr Holst ripped off his shirt and began swatting the air. His wife ran. "We just started swinging our clothes," he said. "They stung her all up and down her neck."

Authorities closed the southbound lanes of I-15 near St George for several hours while beekeepers headed to the scene to try to corral the insects. The road was reopened on Monday morning and Mr Holst said most of the bees were either dead or gone.

At least two first responders also were stung at the scene, said Cpl Todd Johnson of Utah Highway Patrol.

Mr Holst, 48, of Gig Harbor, Washington state, said he had 10 stitches to close a gash on his forehead and was stung about a dozen times. His wife suffered stings, bumps and bruises.

The 25 million bees were heading from Adee Honey Farms in Bruce, South Dakota, to near Bakersfield, California, where they stay for the winter before being used for pollination come spring, company co-owner Richard Adee said.

Mr Holst's trip was among the last of 160 truckloads of bees - roughly four billion of them - the farm had been sending south for the winter, Mr Adee said.

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