Encinitas man dies after bee attack

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55- year-old Encinitas man, Marco Tulio Lazaro, died on Wednesday when he was violently attacked by a swarm of bees. Officials said Lazaro suffered more than 500 stings all over his body.

The attack occurred in Encinitas at a property off of Manchester Avenue near Pacific Ranch Drive. The incident was reported at 11 a.m. by his nephew, 20. The attack began when the victim was using a backhoe to remove brush on the property when he struck a bee hive.


When the 911 call was made, Deputy Fire Chief Scott Henry said Lazaro was in “full cardiac arrest.” According to San Diego County entomologist David Kellum, Lazaro was allergic to bee’s.

Lazaro “noticed a couple bees come back to sting him,” Henry said. “He stopped, got off the tractor and there was a large swarm of bees all around. He started running and the bees pursued him.”

He ran about 200 yards to escape the swarming bee’s and attempted to find shelter within an outhouse, where firefighters found him unstable. Firefighters performed CPR and took him to Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas where he was pronounced dead.

Kellum said after being stung multiple times, “you are being inundated with venom.”

Neighbors said Lazaro lived on the property, Wiegand Ranch, and was a longtime landscaper, gardener and maintenance man. Lazaro’s nephew, who rents a house on the property, was sheltered from the bees in a dump truck. He suffered only two stings and declined to be hospitalized.

The type of bees have not yet been identified, but officials said 80 percent of wild bees in San Diego are Africanized “killer” bees. These bees sting in large swarms and attack much faster than European honeybees.

“When the bees are disturbed, European or African, they will react in a similar manner,” Kellum said.

Pest control was called in and worked through the brush to remove the hive, which was found in an abandoned vehicle. Bill Tanksley of Pinpoint Pest Control estimated that 60,000 to 80,000 bee’s lived in the hive.  The hive was one of the larger hives Tanksley has seen.

One of the best ways to avoid an attack is to be aware of any hives or nests within your surrounds before doing yard work.

Photo courtesy of Todd Huffman via Flickr.

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