California Construction Worker Dies in Bee Attack

A construction worker died after a bee swarm attacked him and at least two co-workers Monday in Riverside, city fire officials and a county coroner’s spokesman said.

The crew was working along the 5200 block of Van Buren Boulevard near a Walmart and a McDonald’s just before 10 a.m. when they came across an underground hive, a Riverside Fire Department news release said.

“The contractor was grading the property for a parking lot and possibly hit an underground sprinkler control vault, which housed a bee hive,” Battalion Chief Tony Perna said in a statement. “The bees swarmed and attacked three construction workers.”

One of the patients later died, said sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony Townsend, a spokesman for the county coroner’s office. Coroner’s officials later identified the victim as 49-year-old Douglas Queen of Los Angeles.

Another worker was said to be in moderate condition. The third was treated at the scene and released.

Soon after the attack, the bees turned docile and returned to their hive, fire officials said.

The contractor arranged for a bee company to deal with the hive.

The bee attack came without warning, workers said.

“We were over there digging a trench and the bees started going everywhere,” said Tomace Marquez, one of the workers on the scene.

Another worker said panic spread through the crew like wildfire.

“People were running everywhere,” said Blaine Dyer.

Two men were rolling around with their hands covering their faces as they were swarmed, and another worker was swatting at them with a piece of clothing, they said.

“There were bees all over them – hundreds of them,” Marquez said.

Marquez grabbed a hose attached to a water tank and doused the men, ending the attack, they said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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