ENCINO (CNS) - A volunteer Los Angeles police officer who was repeatedly stung when hundreds of bees swarmed an Encino neighborhood remained hospitalized Wednesday, and a GoFundMe account was established on his behalf.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, which did not identify the man, the volunteer and his partner had stopped Monday afternoon to perform traffic-control duties near the 17100 block of Adlon Road, near the Encino Reservoir where firefighters had responded to reports of a person being stung by bees.
The swarm rapidly expanded, soon involving hundreds, if not thousands, of bees centered around a hive in eaves of a home nearby.
One patient was initially transported to a hospital for treatment of multiple stings, but then the LAPD volunteer was surrounded by bees. He was seen on video trying to swat away the bees, eventually falling to the ground as they swarmed and stung him.
"He attempted to swat the bees away but was stung multiple times in the face and eyes, causing him to lose his footing and fall to the ground," according to an LAPD statement.
He was also taken to a hospital for treatment of the stings and a fractured eye socket, police said.
The GoFundMe account has been established on behalf of the man, identified only as Gary, by his son, Daniel, who wrote, in part:
"I'm fundraising for my dad, Gary, who was heartbreakingly featured on television as being overcome by killer bees and falling to the ground with the fire department nearby. Dad has been a volunteer for the LAPD for nearly 18 years, has been a first responder to many incidents, and helped save many lives by calling in paramedics to accident scenes, directing traffic around dangerous areas, and even making good decisions about when to step in and say help clear a baby's airway when it was suffering from RSV and stopped breathing before paramedics could arrive.
"Unfortunately, while his job gets a lot of praise, we recently found out he'll be on the hook for his own medical expenses through Medicare, since volunteers are not considered city employees. Further, he's had to indemnify the LAPD and the city against any injuries he gets `on duty' and even pay for his own uniform and gear necessary to carry out those duties.
"It's looking like we, his family, will need to go to bat for him here, as he's going to be in the hospital for several more days to be stabilized enough for facial surgery. So we're hoping those out there that have any ties to or have been helped by these community officers, or even just want to keep them around and help protect them from harm's way, can donate to get Gary back on his feet as soon as possible."
Late Wednesday afternoon, the LAPD issued a statement saying department volunteers "do have insurance through the city that will ensure our volunteers are not financially burdened should they be injured."
"The Los Angeles Police Department values our volunteers and their willingness to protect and serve," according to the LAPD.
As of Wednesday evening, the GoFundMe account had raised more than $14,000. The account is at www.gofundme.com/f/volunteer-lapd-officer-attacked- by-bees.
Following the bee attack, the Los Angeles Fire Department urged residents to remain indoors with their windows and doors closed while a beekeeping company was called to the scene.
Izak Kharrazi of All Valley Honey & Bee told CBS2 at the scene Monday the swarm was bigger and more aggressive than he anticipated.
"There is like a cloud of hundreds of bees over there," he told the station. "I said, `Oh, boy' ... that's why right away I put my gear on, because I can see them. They're mad as could be."
He added, "This is not a normal behavior for these bees to be this angry, to want to kill you. This is not OK."