1000 deadly bee stings
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Durban - The teen who survived the bee attack that claimed the life of a North Coast pensioner, has told of how his friend was stung 1 000 times.
Angelo Blapelli, 19, was with Alfred Johnstone, 64, when he was attacked on Monday.
They lived in Tugela Mouth and had picked wild guavas at the same spot – along a dirt road that runs between the R102 Link Road and the Mandeni Toll Plaza – for several years.
“But this time I had a horrible feeling, I just knew something bad was going to happen,” Blapelli recalled on Wednesday.
They arrived at the wild guava orchard at about 10am. Blapelli went to a cluster of trees further away, while Johnstone picked fruit from trees closer to the road.
Soon thereafter, Blapelli heard the sound of a car and went to investigate. He saw that their car was gone. Without warning, he was attacked by a swarm of bees.
“I just ran and ran, down the road, slapping bees off me. I pulled my T-shirt up over my head and just ran. I’ve never run like that,” he said. “I ran up the road calling to Alfred.”
He lost sight of the car, but kept running up the road.
“Then someone called me over, and said, ‘There he is, over there’.”
Under attack from the bees, Johnstone had jumped into his car and driven off. The car had then veered off the road.
Although the car did hit a barrier on the side of the road, said Blapelli, there was no car crash as such. “The car was only scraped.”
An inquest docket has been opened at Mandeni police station, but it seems likely that Johnstone died within minutes.
Blapelli said he was told by a relative that Johnstone was allergic to bee stings. The doctors who did the post-mortem, told them about the large number of stings.
When Blapelli got to where Johnstone’s car had left the road, about 1km away from the scene of the attack, passers-by had already stopped to help.
He checked inside the car.
“I could see he was already dead, he wasn’t breathing,” Blapelli said. “The car was filled with dead bees, hundreds of them.”
He called the emergency services, which arrived within 10 to 15 minutes.
Johnstone’s wife, Martie, was also called. She rushed to the scene, which was about 5km away from their home.
“I tried to resuscitate him, I carried on giving CPR. But then the paramedics said I should stop, he was already dead,” she said.
Blapelli was treated for bee stings at the Sundumbile Clinic, observed for six hours and then discharged.
“I’m grateful to God that my life was spared,” he said. “But I’m shocked and sad about Alfred’s death.”
He said he and Johnstone, a retired swimming pool contractor, had been friends for four years.
“He was good to me. We would go fishing together.”
The Johnstones’ neighbour, Steve Wium, said: “He was such a nice fellow.”
He said the couple lived a quiet life and were well liked in the town.
The funeral will be held in Utrecht. Johnstone had three children – Daniel, 39, Theresa, 38, and Martie, 28 – and seven grandchildren.