Bee stings believed cause of death
Dozer operator stung multiple times
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

July 7, 2005 - An attack by bees is being blamed as the cause of death of a bulldozer operator working in northern Hopkins County Thursday morning.

Justice of the Peace Ronny Glossup identified the man as Charles Malone, 78, of Paris.

Malone was working on what is known as the old Dunham Ranch, north of Sulphur Bluff, when he was swarmed by bees, according to Investigator Andy Chester with the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office.

“He was running a dozer and pushing some timber and hit an old dead tree,” Chester said. “He got swarmed by bees -- we are not sure what kind, but we just know they are black bees. They say they run into them all the time.”

The investigator said the man was stung multiple times, with at least 20 of the stings on his head. Chester said the man was able to get off his bulldozer and walk more than a quarter-mile to his pickup, get in and start the air conditioning.

“His partner, former Delta County Commissioner Micky Goforth, thought he pushed a dead tree down and [bees] swarmed out of it,” Judge Glossup said. “They just swarmed him.”

Glossup said the attack was not the first for the area, but the first to result in a death.

“Those guys running those dozers, they are into that stuff all the time,” Glossup said.

The judge said the attack occurred in a remote location that was more than five miles from the end of paved roadways and near the intersection of Hopkins, Delta and Franklin county lines.

Stings from bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and ants account for more deaths in the United States than any other venomous creatures, according to information from emedicine.com. Most deaths are from allergic reactions, some are from the toxicity of the venom. In about half of the fatalities, death occurs within 30 minutes of the sting, and 75 percent within four hours.

In a preliminary ruling, Glossup attributed the death to the large number of bee stings. He said he was going to order an autopsy, however, to determine the exact cause of death.

Tapp Funeral Home was called to the scene and is in charge of local arrangements.

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