Over 200 bee stings lands OC woman in hospital

A swarm of bees attacked a cleaning woman Monday in Lake Forest, landing her in a hospital in critical condition, and then attacked four firefighters who were coming to her aid.

At Laguna Woods Station 22 firefighters get calls all day long. A report of a bee sting is nothing unusual. But, when paramedics from Station 22 got to the 23,000 block of Buckland in Lake Forest, what they saw was more like a scene from a horror movie starring, among others, Firefighter/paramedic Ryan Wilson called to rescue a house cleaner attacked by a swarm. "I could see just clumps of bees on her face," he says.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m., the woman had arrived to clean a home in the 23000 block of Buckland Lane when she was attacked by a swarm of bees, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said.

He described the tennis ball sized bee-clumps as "...almost flattened.. pancaked… but clumps of bees... all through out her hair. Almost like a colony of bees had landed her head in her hair and started intertwining themselves in her hair."

Wilson says the woman - stung over 200 times - seemed paralyzed. She wasn't reacting to his words. "So," he says, "...I grabbed her by the wrist and just started pulling her down the street," He and other firefighters sprayed her with CO2 from an extinguisher to try and get the bees to leave.

Wilson says, "... that was causing the bees to freeze in mid air so they were starting to rain out of the sky and land all over the sidewalk."

Authorities say the hive was underground by a gas pipe. Authorities say there could've been as many as 30 to 80,000 bees in that colony. A bee exterminator removed it in two large buckets that's how big it was. And, as they swarmed around the woman and firefighters Wilson says, "We could feel them hitting us like little bee bees out of a bee bee gun… everywhere all over our bodies they were hitting us.. luckily we only got stung a few times sending."

The homeowner, Sara, told us this all started when the house cleaner went to grab a mop she left at the car and, then she says, all of a sudden I heard screaming and screaming and screaming."

Hours later, paramedics had to take Sara to the hospital as well. Apparently she didn't need treatment earlier but, according to Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) Capt. Tony Bommarito, "...she felt like she was starting to get symptoms from the bee attack earlier."

Bottomline... Jeremy Bruce of Bee Busters says, "Africanized bees are tenacious. They'll sting until there isn't a target and if someone is standing around flailing like this they're still remaining a target." Bruce says, "when you have bees out like foraging through the flowers there's nothing to worry about, but if you're out walking or hiking and a bee bounces into you turn around go the other way and do it in a quick manner.'

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