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Thursday, August 3, 2006 - Page updated at 11:28 AM

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Car crash prompts bee attack; 10 hospitalized

OSSIAN, Ind. – A teenage driver crashed into a hollow tree and stirred up tens of thousands of angry honey bees, creating a swarm that sent her and nine others to the hospital.

"Those bees were mad," said Volunteer Fire Chief Kent Gilbert, who was stung at least 50 times while trying to pull the 16-year-old driver from the wreckage. "I've never seen bees, especially honeybees, attack like that."

Jacqueline Cossairt's SUV slammed into the tree Tuesday after she lost control on a gravel road about 10 miles south of Fort Wayne.

By the time rescuers arrived, a black cloud of buzzing insects had engulfed the car, forcing firefighters to wear full safety gear — complete with oxygen tanks and face masks — with temperatures in the 90s.

Safety workers doused the bees with water and foam while they tried to free Cossairt, who was taken to a nearby hospital with broken legs and multiple bee stings. She was remained at Lutheran Hospital on Thursday.

A neighbor, along with a paramedic and seven firefighters, were also hospitalized for bee stings and heat-related symptoms.

"You can't really train for that. You don't really know. You look for downed power lines. You don't look for a million bees," said Master Trooper Bob Brophy, commander of the Indiana State Police's Fort Wayne post.

Bee expert Stan Grove, a biology professor at Goshen College, said the insects are most active in warm weather when they furiously fan their wings to cool the temperature of the hive.

"They don't like to be jostled," Grove said.

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