Golf course worker killed in horror bee swarm attack

A golf course worker has died in a horrific bee swarm attack in Arizona while mowing the lawns.

Rick Messina, 57, a groundskeeper who had been working for the course’s agronomy team since July 2022, was mowing in the area when he was stung, El Conquistador Golf, located in Oro Valley, just north of Tuscon, Arizona, said in a statement to USA TODAY.

“It appears Rick was attacked by a traveling swarm of bees,” the company said.

The tragic incident occurred in late June near hole 8 at one of the golf courses El Conquistador operates, Pusch Ridge Course.

Someone called authorities regarding the bee attack incident at 7.17am on June 24, Darren Wright, a spokesperson for the Oro Valley Police, told the outlet. Messina was then taken to a local hospital, where he died three days later on June 27.

On the day of the attack, professional beekeepers came to the resort to inspect all 45 golf holes on the property; however, they found no hives or bee activity and gave the property the all-clear.

After Messina’s passing, El Conquistador sent out a statement to their golf club members about the “tragic workplace accident” that resulted in the groundskeeper’s death.

“Rick was a dedicated and cherished member of our team, known for his exceptional work ethic, positive attitude, and unwavering commitment to his duties. His sudden passing is a profound loss to our work family and our community,” the statement obtained by the outlet read.

“El Conquistador Golf and Indigo Sports has deployed support resources to both Rick’s family and our team to help all navigate through this difficult time,” they continued.

The incident occured in late June on Punsch Ridge Course in Oro Valley, Arizona (13 News)
The incident occured in late June on Punsch Ridge Course in Oro Valley, Arizona (13 News)

They added that Messina had died as a result of “complications from the bee stings,” according to the outlet.

The Town of Oro Valley said they wanted to remind all citizens “to be mindful of the wildlife and venomous creatures in our region. Summer is peak season for bee swarms, so please remain vigilant,” local outlet 13 News reports.

Town officials have also reportedly put up signs along the entrance of the course to remind people to be wary of the wildlife in the area.

The tragic accident comes months after another bee-related incident occurred in Arizona, when a swarm of bees interrupted an Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers game.

The baseball game, which happened on April 30,  was delayed by nearly two hours as they rushed to try and get rid of the bee swarm.

The insect colony occupied the top of the protective netting behind the home plate.

Matt Hilton, the branch manager for Blue Sky Pest Control’s Phoenix office who removed the bees, was given the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The Independent has contacted El Conquistador Golf for comment.