A father and son from Altamonte Springs are both in intensive care units at two separate hospitals after being attacked by a massive swarm of wasps.
David Alvarez and his 7-year-old son, Jordan, were on a walk with their dog last Wednesday evening in a wooded area along the Little Wekiva River when one of them or the dog stepped on a yellow jacket nest, disturbing thousands of the wasps.
“Just to see them like that and so swollen and so many marks on them, it's just horrible,” said Jennifer Jones, the man's wife and boy's mother.
Jones has been going back and forth between Florida Hospital Altamonte and Orlando, visiting her husband and son, who are struggling to recover from the attack. She said her husband's grandmother lives in the neighborhood they were in and that he's gone for walks in the same area for the past 30 years.
When the hornets attacked, Jones said her son led his dad, who is allergic to hornets, out of the wooded area and onto the road, where they flagged down help.
“I was driving down the street and I saw a man and a boy stumbling out of the woods and stumbled across the road covered in bees,” said Brien Schou.
Schou said he rolled down his window to see what they needed and wasps immediately flew into his vehicle. Schou called 911 while other neighbors ran out to help.
“I know he wanted to quit because he said, 'I just wanted to give up because it hurt so bad, but I had to keep going because I seen daddy laying there on the ground.' I just can't believe how strong he is,” said Jones of her 7-year-old son.
To Jones' amazement, a beekeeper who lives nearby also heard people screaming for help. Jim Kunze jumped in his truck and drove around the block, where he found the two suffering.
“It was pretty bad. It was chicken pox times five, at least,” said Kunze.
Kunze threw on his bee outfit, put Jordan in his truck to get some air conditioning and immediately went to work, pulling off and killing the yellow jackets that were still attacking Alvarez.
Kunze said he believes the family's dog was walking ahead of the father and son and may have stepped on the nest, disturbing the wasps.
“They've got guards at their entrance, and once the first one stings, it puts out a pheromone, it alerts the rest and the rest go to that point,” said Kunze.
Alvarez has developed pneumonia and a blood clot. He is still unconscious and heavily sedated. His son was taken out of ICU but was re-admitted Monday due to some difficulty breathing.
“They will be lucky to survive this. They were attacked that viciously,” said Kunze.
Jones said her husband was alert enough to give her phone number to paramedics, who called her to tell her what happened. She said when she got there, a yellow jacket was crawling out of her son's ear.
The family's dog was also stung and started to have liver failure. She was taken to a veterinarian and seems to be recovering well.
Jones said she's thankful for the first responders and the beekeeper who helped her family.
With kids out of school for summer and playing outside, Jones said she just wants other parents to be aware of what happened to her family.
“It's so nerve-racking because it's kind of by a school and it is summer time and kids go and explore and the main thing is, I don't want this to happen to another kid,” said Jones.