(Maricopa County Az) Just before 9 am this morning, Alex Bestler (1993)-(visiting from Louisiana), and a friend, Sonya, were hiking on Merkle Trail within Usery Mountain Park. Without provocation or warning, a large swarm of bees descended on both of them as they continued on the trail. Sonya was ahead of Alex, and made it to a restroom which provided shelter.
A Good Samaritan went back to the area Sonya described to check on Alex. Alex was located lying on the ground still covered by bees and he was not able to approach due to the aggressiveness of the bees. The first park employees arrived and attempted to approach Alex, but were forced back by the bees. As Alex was covered by bees, a second attempt to approach was unsuccessful due to the hostility of the bees. Sgt. Romer with the Sheriff’s Lake Patrol arrived on scene, assumed possession of a park Utility Vehicle, and drove to Alex’s location.
With the assistance of two Rural Metro Fire Fighters, Sgt. Romer was able to load Alex onto the UTV and remove him from the scene, still covered with bees, and a swarm pursuing. Upon arrival at the emergency vehicles’ location, the bees had dissipated to the point of safety, that fire personnel began life saving measures. Alex was transported to Desert Vista Hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said “I commend Sgt. Romer for risking his life trying to save the victim. These attacks are becoming more frequent and I urge the public to be aware of their surroundings when out in these areas.”
An examination of the body conducted by medical staff and Sheriff’s detectives estimated over a thousand bee stings. The decedent was conveyed to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office and is pending autopsy. At this time, the occurrence area is closed to the public so it may be evaluated by Park Personnel. Sgt. Romer received first aid treatment for multiple bee stings, cacti punctures, and has since returned to duty. This is an ongoing investigation.