A 74-year-old man is dead after being attacked by a hive of bees on Fairbanks Road Wednesday afternoon.
Police are yet to formally name the man, but he has been identified locally as George Sherrel Whittaker, father of boxing champion Charles ‘the Killa’ Whittaker.
Mr. Whittaker was attacked just meters from his Fairbanks Road house just before 2.45pm when a back-hoe working on his land struck a bee’s nest.
The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call stating that members of the public were trying to help the man but could not get to him because he was covered in bees.
Neighbours described scenes of horror as they tried to rescue Mr. Whittaker only to be forced back by the bees.
‘It looked as if they hit a bee-hive and that was it, the bees were all over him and also the back-hoe driver,’ said neighbour and friend Eustace Jeffers Friday morning.
‘Sherrel ended up lying on the ground with nobody able to get to him for about an hour,’ he said. ‘A lot of neighbours came with sheets and plastic and stuff but the bees were so fierce that they just couldn’t get close.
‘It wasn’t until the bee catcher came, maybe an hour later, that they were able to get to him to get him to the ambulance,’ he said.
Mr. Jeffers said his friend rolled 15 to 20 yards from where he was attacked but the bees followed him.
Paramedics, the fire department and police all attended the scene. After finally clearing the bees, Mr. Whittaker was rushed by ambulance to hospital but he was pronounced dead just over an hour later.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said in a statement that it has launched an investigation into the incident and emphasised that the cause of death is not known.
Neighbours in the area said Mr. Whittaker was well liked and respected member of the community that will be sorely missed.
‘It was so difficult because he was a good friend of mine,’ said Mr. Jeffers. ‘He was a very nice person, he was so friendly. He has a lot of tenants down here and everybody just loved him to death. He never says a bad word about anybody. He was a good, good friend and he is going to be sadly missed.’
The last reported case of someone being killed by bees in Cayman was on 5 May, 2004, when an 86-year-old man was found unconscious on the side of North West Point Road covered in bee stings and with bees swarming around him. The man was pronounced dead on arrival at the Cayman Islands Hospital.
Less than two weeks later, on 17 May, 2004, another man, 70, was stung by bees at his house on North West Point Road. The man survived the attack but his pet dog died as a result of bees stings.