Trucks mishap turns into bee-saster

Aloha men find themselves ankle-deep in groggy bees after wreck
by: Submitted Photo, Oregon State Trooper John Russo surveyed the damage Sunday afternoon as bee hives littered Highway 97 in Central Oregon after a flat-bed truck driven by an Aloha man overturned.

Oh trucking, where is thy sting? Out on Highway 97, that's where.

Two Aloha men discovered the hard way that driving bees can be hazardous, in more ways than the obvious.

The 1998 Freightliner 40-foot-long flatbed semi-truck they were driving overturned Sunday afternoon on Highway 97 near Highway 197 north of Madras in Central Oregon, spilling about $100,000 worth of honey bees.

The truck's driver, 22-year-old Cuteberto G. Diaz, was not injured in the accident. Oregon State Police cited him for failing to maintain a lane of travel on the highway.

Diaz's passenger, Hermelinda A. Cortes, 27, was treated for minor injuries and released from Mountain View Hospital in Madras.

There were no reports of anyone being stung by the bees, who were goggy from the cold weather.

According to Oregon State Police, the truck was traveling south on Highway 97 about 2:27 p.m. when it hit a sweeping turn near Highway 197 and lost control, overturning on the highway.

The boxes of bee hives smashed onto the road. Many were salvaged and loaded on another truck.

Trooper John Russo and a recruit he was training, Scott Sogge, responded to the accident and found sluggish bees buzzing around but unable to go anyplace. The dazed and confused bees flew into people and fell to the ground, leaving piles of bumbling bees ankle deep near the wreck.

Lt. Carl Rhodes of the Oregon State Police office in Bend said the highway junction where the accident occurred was dangerous for trucks because loads can shift on the turn.

Russo and Sogge walked in the piles of bees, causing problems for them later. Some bees crawled up their pant legs and, when warmed by the patrol car's heater, came to life.

'They left the area and had a few bee incidents in the car,' Rhodes said.