Further details have emerged around the death of the 55-year-old mountain climber who died after a bee attack on Monday.
The Pima County Medical Examiner says Steven Johnson died of the venom from hundreds of bee stings. Friends said he was looking for a new climbing trail on the face of a cliff on Mount Hopkins in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Initial reports said Johnson had been missing since leaving for a hike Friday, but friends corrected the report, saying they heard from Johnson after the hike and knew of his plans to go climbing.
He wasn’t pounding anchors into the wall as originally suspected, either.
It now appears that when climbing, he moved sideways and tied into a different existing anchor, and his safety rope brushed against the hive and agitated the bees, said a fellow climber.
“As I descended, I ran into a big bee hive, and they came out of the cliff,” said Eric Rhicard, who was a friend of Johnson and one of the climbers who found him. He followed Johnson’s climbing route to get to his body.
“They weren’t attacking me, but they were definitely agitated and coming out of the hole in the cliff.”
Rhicard said once he and others reached the body and determined that Johnson had died, they lowered the body to the ground where Santa Cruz County sheriff's removed it from the scene.