AUSTIN (KXAN) — A landscape lighting technician died following a bee attack at a central Austin home on Thursday, according to a family spokesperson.
Franco Galvan Martinez, 53, was in a backyard tree, suspended by a harness, when he inadvertenly disturbed a hive and the bees swarmed, family friend and pastor Joe Maldonado told KXAN.
“I guess in [Galvan Martinez’s] panic trying to swat away the bees from himself. He kicked away the ladder,” Maldonado said.
Martinez remained suspended in the air by the harness after the ladder fell away. A spokesperson for the family told KXAN an autopsy is pending.
Austin-Travis County EMS said first responders were dispatched to a home in the 2100 block of Meadowbrook Drive around 5 p.m.
Bill Biggadike & Associates, a New Braunfels-based landscape and lighting company, confirmed Friday one of its workers died but had no other immediate comment.
A neighbor who did not wish to be identified said they heard Galvan Martinez’s screams for help, adding he appeared to be covered in thousands of bees.
Two of his co-workers below attempted to help but were also stung, they said.
“They were very distraught,” the neighbor told KXAN. “It was horrible.”
The resident said neighbors had been aware of a hive in the tree for some time but never experienced any issues.
The Austin Code Department said the case was assigned to an inspector following a call on Friday. A neighbor said an inspector visited the home and took photos.
The department said there are no prior code complaints at the address.
The owner of the home declined comment when KXAN visited Friday evening.
Austin Code said city ordinance regulates the maintenance and management of bee colonies within city limits. However, the ordinance does not apply to wild colonies in tree hollows or stumps.
Check back for updates to this developing story.