Tucson hiker found dead, hanging in rappelling gear and covered in bee stings

2013-05-07T21:18:00Z 2013-05-08T16:23:41Z Tucson hiker found dead, hanging in rappelling gear and covered in bee stingsCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 07, 2013 9:18 pm  • 

A Tucson man was found dead Monday hanging in his rappelling gear from a cliff on Mount Hopkins south of Tucson. He had been attacked by bees and suffered hundreds of stings, but investigators don’t know if that caused his death.

Steven Wallace Johnson, 55, was an experienced hiker and climber who went to rappel on Friday, said Lt. Raoul Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department.

One preliminary theory is that Johnson disturbed the bees while hammering his spike into the cliff, Rodriguez said.

Johnson’s dog, which also was attacked by bees, was found dead on top of the ridge that Johnson was rappelling, Rodriguez said.

When Johnson did not show up to work Monday, co-workers reported him missing to the Tucson Police Department.

Authorities learned that Johnson planned to hike in the Santa Rita Mountains, and also in other locations in Santa Cruz County.

Deputies of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department and its search and rescue unit found Johnson’s body Monday at 6:30 p.m..

The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of his death.

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