An unusual accident diverted traffic on a busy Oklahoma interstate Tuesday: a truck carrying hundreds of thousands of bees overturned, unleashing the insects in a massive swarm that stretched a half-mile from the incident.
The accident happened around 1 p.m. Tuesday along an exit ramp, where the tractor-trailer carrying the bees overturned, scattering dozens of crates — containing thousands of insects each — along the roadway, Fox News reported.
The overturned truck had been hauling them from the north. OKC Fox estimated the number of bees was about one million.
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“Oh, gosh, I’d even be afraid to guess — jillions and jillions,” Steve Chronister from P&M Wrecker Service told KFOR. “We’re going to go up here and see if we can get this truck rolled over and get this mess cleaned up.”
Though the interstate managed to stay open throughout the bizarre accident, traffic was diverted, and people passing by the scene were more than a little nervous.
“A lot of my friends are allergic to bees and it’s so scary like knowing that that’s out there,” said local resident Dalton Brown.
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After the truck overturned, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local emergency responders spent the entire day clearing away the bees from the interstate. Despite their efforts, plenty of them ended up far away from the scene and many witnesses said people saw escaped bees about a half a mile away from where the truck overturned, KJRH added.
“The bees will swarm up to 10 miles away some of them in groups. If the groups should swarm that far away,” said the county’s emergency management coordinator, Bud Ramming.
In 30 years on the job, Ramming said he’d never seen anything quite like an interstate covered in bees.
Deputy Carl Zink would definitely agree that the sight was unusual, though he’d probably add that it was quite frightening as well.
He was one of the first people to respond to the report of the overturned truck at about 12:45 p.m. and was greeted upon his arrival with an angry swarm, which covered the windows and windshield of his cruiser, NewsOk added.
Remarkably, the deputy was only stung once.
Local news reports didn’t indicate what caused the crash, and the driver, who wasn’t identified, reportedly suffered minor injuries, was treated in the hospital and quickly released. The driver definitely has someone to thank for walking away from the accident fairly unscathed: Scott Woods, who pulled him from the overturned truck amid “millions, millions of bees. I couldn’t give you a number, but millions,” he told KFOR.
“I got stung on the lip, on the end of the nose, mouth, the side of the eye and then the back.”
Other people in close proximity to the crash and its resulting swarm of bees were injured, but no further details were provided through local news reports.
Unfortunately, though beekeepers worked all day trying to recapture the bees, they couldn’t catch all of them. Officials involved in the cleanup were told that bees get more aggressive at night, KOCO added, so as the sky darkened, they had to make a choice that rankled local beekeeper Jim Stinson.
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They had to kill them.
“There is a bee shortage, [so] when they started talking about killing these bees here tonight, I threw a fit and said ‘Don’t do that till I get there.'”
To protect the public from a swarm, they piled the crates in a large heap and set them on fire. In light of Oklahoma’s bee shortage, that was a tough sight to witness and a huge loss.
Luckily, several hundred thousand were saved by the end of the night.
[Photo Courtesy dcwcreations / Shutterstock]