The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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August 5, 2013

Ga. man survives more than 1,000 bee stings

HAHIRA, Ga. — A Georgia man survived being stung more than 1,000 times by bees, which then attacked emergency responders who came to help, according to the man’s stepson.

Raymond Folsom, 77, a full-time farmer, was riding his tractor across his tree farm in Hahira, Ga., on Saturday when one tire sank in a hole, tilting the tractor and causing the rotor to hit a pair of beekeeper's hives, said his stepson, Mickey McMillan.

"He's cut close (to the hives) before and they never bothered him," McMillan said.

This time, the bees swarmed out and attacked Folsom, he said. Folsom jumped off the tractor, then fell. He covered his mouth and tried to run, ending up in the middle of the road.

"They were stinging him all over, leaving stingers all over the place," McMillan said. "He was fighting and losing."

As Folsom's eyes started to swell, he tried to use his cellphone. He couldn't see to dial, but managed to pull up a speed dial list and reached his son-in-law, McMillan said.

"He told his son-in-law 'I'm covered in bees, they're killing me, call 911,' then hung up," he said.

The son-in-law called 911, then rushed from his home 10 miles away to help Folsom

When the ambulance crew arrived at Folsom's house, two emergency medical technicians rushed over to help, only to be attacked by the bees themselves.

The EMTs got Folsom into the ambulance, and the bees swarmed over the vehicle, trapping them inside, McMillan said.

"(The EMTs) started scraping the stingers off him," he said.

Folsom was taken to a hospital in Valdosta, Ga., where he was listed in good condition Sunday evening.

"He was lucid, joking around," McMillan said. "His white bed sheets were covered with stingers."

McMillan said hospital staff told him Folsom was stung an estimated 1,000 times, more than anyone else they had treated who had survived.

Terry Richards is a reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times in Valdosta, Ga.

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