Bees at Camelback Mountain attacked several hikers this afternoon, causing at least one person to
become injured die in a fall, authorities say. (See today's update by clicking here.)
"A bunch of hikers were getting attacked," says Captain Scott McDonald, Phoenix Fire Department spokesman, who was still gathering info at the mountain park when we caught him on his cell.
The attack reportedly occurred on Echo Canyon Trail, involving at least three hikers.
McDonald says one victim fell after being nailed by bees, and a technical rescue is ongoing. He plans to put out a public statement soon about the incident.
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The 57-acre, rugged Echo Canyon park is popular with rock climbers as well as hikers. Several beehives are situated among the crags, and sometimes the little insects get downright ornery. They occasionally make the news for stinging hikers and climbers.
In 2004, bees were responsible for the death of a 24-year-old Michigan man, Keith Abbe. He'd been climbing the lengthy Hart Route with a friend when bees -- apparently from a hive on the top of the climb's second pitch -- attacked both men. Abbe, who'd never climbed outdoors before, untied the safety line from his harness and attempted to escape the bees by down-climbing the vertical route. He slipped and fell about 50 feet to his death.
The advice of experts if attacked by a swarm: Run. As far and fast as possible.
Bee attacks have been relatively common in the Valley since Africanized "killer" bees arrived in the 1990s.