Duncan man dies in bee attack

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Africanized bees gather at their hive at a previous bee call south of Safford. A Duncan man died Friday after being stung multiple times by bees.

By Jon Johnson


COCHISE COUNTY – A 72-year-old Duncan man reportedly died Friday afternoon after being stung by bees in Cochise County while cleaning up scrap piles near Atkins Farm Road. 

According to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, the deceased man, identified by family members as Don Richins, was working the pile with his son, Scott Edward Richins, 43, of Safford, when the bees attacked around 2:30 p.m. 

A Cochise County deputy contacted the pair near San Simon east of Willcox while Scott attempted to drive his father to safety and get medical attention.

“The driver advised his father was in the back seat and had been stung multiple times by bees,” the Sheriff’s Office news release stated.

The deputy attempted to assist Don but there were several bees inside the vehicle and he was stung as well. 

“The bees inside of the vehicle made efforts impossible and the driver was instructed to roll down the windows and follow the deputy a short distance to a location to meet with the medical personnel from San Simon Fire Department,” the release stated. 

After stopping again, the deputy began CPR until he was relieved by medical personnel. Despite their best efforts, Don was later declared deceased. Reportedly, Scott advised that his dad was allergic to bees. 

Scott was airlifted to a Tucson hospital for treatment along with another man who was also helping clean up the scrap. The deputy also had to be treated for multiple bee stings, according to the news release. 

According to Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham, any wild hive of bees in the area is almost certainly of the Africanized “Killer” Bee variety that is much more aggressive than the common European honeybee.

Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald: Video report on a previous bee attack.

This article was corrected Monday, Aug. 12 at 4:45 p.m. to change Don Richins’ age to 72 from 73.

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