Hiker airlifted to safety after stung by bees

Posted at 9:38 AM, Sep 06, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona authorities said a hiker was airlifted to safety after they were stung by bees on a popular hiking trail near Tucson.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department said their search and rescue team conducted the rescue Monday on the Pontatoc Ridge Trail, located in Coronado National Forest.

“They were three avid hikers. They knew where they were going, and they knew what they were doing," said Jason Schlueter, a rescuer with the Southern Arizona Rescue Association. "They were smart enough to turn around and run downhill and get away from the bees as quickly as they could."

Schlueter said their group was paged after the hikers called 911.

He said all three hikers were stung by bees, but one person was stung so bad they needed to be airlifted out of Sabino Canyon into an ambulance.

“Even with today’s wind, the Deputy decided it was severe enough to bring the patient out by helicopter," said Schlueter.

Schlueter said calls to search and rescue teams after bee attacks don't happen often, but he warns all hikers to stay alert.

“It can be very severe because the bees can cause anaphylaxis, the stingings can swell up your throat, swell up your face, and it can kill you," said Schlueter.

He recommends anyone hitting the trails have a bee net handy to protect their face and head.

Schlueter also encourages everyone to call 911 if they need a search and rescue team.

“We don’t want anybody to not call thinking that they can’t afford to live or to be saved. Call 911, and we will get you out. Call us and don’t be afraid about the cost because if SARA comes and the PCSD calls us, you’re not going to be charged," Schlueter said.

PCSDSAR advises hikers to be alert, wear light-colored clothing, carry a bee hood, and bring their EpiPen if allergic.

Bivian Contreras and Faith Abercrombie at KGUN first reported this story.