UPDATE: Las Cruces man in critical condition after bee attack

Photo courtesy the Las Cruces Fire Department

POSTED: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 12:11pm

UPDATED: Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 8:49am

Neighbors Cautioned to Keep Children, Pets Indoors

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- A large swarm of bees stung a man possibly hundreds of times as he and three others began cutting down a large cottonwood tree at the Alameda House property in downtown Las Cruces.

The 52-year-old man was found unconscious by Las Cruces firefighters who arrived shortly before noon today at The Alameda House at 526 S. Alameda Boulevard.

"By the time he got to the bottom he was already delirious and collapsed," said Arturo Avila who witnessed the attack first hand.

Fire and police said the attack happened when crews began cutting off limbs from a dead cottonwood tree at the back of the property.

They said the tree was hollow and the 52-year-old was scaling the top of the tree harnessed in a belay line when the bees started swarming.

The other members on the crew helped bring him down.

Avila was on the ground trying to do whatever he could to help.

"I was there hosing him off with water and stuff, but I couldn't stay there too long cause the bees were attacking me too," Avila said.

Firefighters had to use foam and water to help mitigate the bees that were covering the man who was found lying on a driveway when firefighters arrived.

"The guy had a blanket of bees," Avila said.

The 52-year-old man was treated at the scene and then rushed to Mountain View Regional Medical Center where he is in serious but stable condition.

Two other employees of the tree-removal business were also stung by bees.

A 30-year-old man was transported to Memorial Medical Center, but was released.

A third victim was treated at the scene.

The area was blocked off for about 4 hours. Alameda Boulevard between El Paseo Road and Lohman Avenue was reopend at about 5pm.

Crews reportedly had checked the tree before work began today.

Bees are quiet in the evening but officials caution that during the daytime hours, Las Crucens in that area keep their children and pets inside.

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