Man dies when brush pile fire in Valley Center stirs up wasps

UPDATE: According to the medical examiner, the victim was stung by wasps, not bees. An autopsy is pending and the actual cause of death has not yet been determined.


A 65-year-old man who stirred up some bees while burning a brush pile died after he was stung.

The sudden death that left the family grieving happened Thursday around 2 p.m. near the 12500 block of Montanya Drive in Valley Center. It's a rural area and the man's son said it took paramedics a while to get there.

"I was performing the CPR and pumping on his chest and blowing in his mouth for a good half an hour by myself with nobody around," said Jamey Umland.

Jamey said before his father, Bruce, lost consciousness, the two of them had one last, very brief conversation.

"I said 'well, let's hope it wasn't an Africanized bee' and he said 'oh no, it's not one of those,' and that was it," Jamey said.

Jamey's father had been burning a brush pile that had been in the yard for years. He didn't know there was a bee hive inside.

"Next thing I know he's stung a couple of times," Jamey said. "Not feeling good and it was downhill from there."

The family said Bruce was not allergic to bees but did suffer from heart problems. They said he was on medication and had been feeling weak for a while.

"He had a bunch of siblings - we're all going to miss him," said Jamey. "He was a good, hard-working Christian who cared about everyone and had empathy towards all people."

It's not known yet what type of bees stung Bruce Umland. The San Diego Medical Examiner's Office will take over the investigation from here.

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