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Man Survives Deadly Bee Swarm Attack Thanks to La Feria Fire Department and EMS

Ramiro Zuniga Jr. and his sister Irene pose with LFFD Chief David Phinney. Photo: Victor Moreno/LFN

by Victor Moreno/LFN

On October 8, 2018, Ramiro Zuniga Jr. never suspected that, while attempting to mow the back part of his property located off of Bixby Rd. as he had done for so many years, he would be attacked by a large swarm of bees.

While mowing with a tractor, Zuniga was overtaken by thousands of bees after molesting a very large hive.

“I jumped and began to roll through the grass, I managed to get my phone to call my wife, my phone was covered in bees, I kept crawling and got to my pool and started splashing water on my face,” Zuniga stated.

“God, I am not going to die here in the grass,” Zuniga said of his will to fight off the thousands of stinging bees for approximately 150 feet to get to his pool which was within sight of Mrs. Zuniga, who lay bedridden and could hear her husbands pleas for help.

Mrs. Zuniga called emergency services for her husband but also saved her three grandchildren from being attacked themselves by instructing them to stay indoors.

Unfortunately the family dog was not spared from the bee attack. La Feria Fire Department Chief David Phinney, upon arriving on scene, said he “was shocked” by the sight of a “foggy cloud of bees” attacking Mr. Zuniga and the family pet who had not left his side.

Phinney, who was away from the station at the time the bee attack call went out, said he was thankful that he had personally purchased a bee suit for just this type of situation. If he had not had a suit with him he would have to make the trip to the station which would have lost response time.

“Protocol is protocol, but sometimes it’s instincts” said Phinney, about making the call to go straight to the incident address.
Phinney who had arrived on scene before fire crew and EMT’s instructed them to stay back as he carried Mr. Zuniga to the safety of the emergency vehicle.

EMT’s Julio Rodriguez and Ivan Lerma then transported Zuniga to the hospital where a team of of around 9 medical personnel removed over 2,000 bee stingers from Mr. Zuniga and removed bees from his mouth, nose and ears.

Zuniga’s family then learned that he would need plasma immediately and as there is no bee trauma center in the Valley he had to be transported to Houston where he received further treatment and therapy.

Having survived such an ordeal Zuniga has been affectionately dubbed “the Bee Man” by all those involved in his care. Ramiro Zuniga and sister Irene Zuniga visited the La Feria Fire Department on November 14,2018 to say thank you to those that responded during the bee attack.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Phinney, referring to the service to the community by first responders.

After a few tearful moments of recounting the incident by Mr. Zuniga, his sister, Chief Phinney and other first responders they took a moment to take a photo together.

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