Dad Doing Yard Work Gets Stung By Wasp, Did Not Know He Was Allergic

A husband and father in Florida was going about his routine chores. He was doing yardwork with a Weed Eater on Sunday, and accidentally disturbed an underground nest of yellow jackets. He got stung four times. His family is now coping with his unexpected death.

John Clarke, a 53-year-old man from Tampa, had no idea that he was allergic to insect stings. All Julie Clarke, his wife, knew was that he came in the house complaining he was stung.

"Julie, I got stung by some bees and it hurts really bad," Mrs. Clarke says her husband told her when he walked through the door. He had accidentally disturbed a nest of yellow jackets, a particularly aggressive wasp. He was quickly swarmed by the yellow and black insects and stung four times.

According to Julie, John sat in the house for a while, expecting to recover. His face started getting numb and his breathing became labored. About 30 minutes after he had gotten stung, he told his wife to call 911. He wanted to go to the hospital.

"I realized, at this point, something was going very wrong," Julie explained to Fox 13 News. "I was holding his hand and he was like, 'I love you.' And I was like, 'I love you too.' And just the way he, kind of like, settled in, it made me a little bit nervous."

Shortly after that, John stopped breathing altogether. Julie attempted to administer CPR until paramedics arrived, but by then it was too late. Doctors couldn't revive him. John died from anaphylaxis shock.

Julie and the rest of John's family are struggling to process the sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one.

"The keys are on the counter where he left them. His shirts that I folded earlier are stacked on his dresser," Julie said. "Everything was regular except he wasn't there and it was just hard to realize that he's just not coming back."

Julie's father, Dave Kozlowski, is also trying to make sense of the tragedy. "I'd accept a heart attack," he said. "[But] a perfectly healthy, beautiful guy dead that quickly, and it's within an hour! He gets stung by the bee and less than an hour later, he's gone! You can't hardly believe something like that."

According to the National Institute of Health, there are only about 50 deaths from insect stings every year in the U.S. It's incredibly rare for someone to have such a severe allergic reaction to a couple of stings. According to Dr. Joette Giovinco of Fox News, people can develop these kinds of allergies at any time in life.

"There is just this exception here, with these types of wasps and bees and insects, where that anaphylaxis can occur very, very rapidly," she explains.

If a person knows they are allergic, they would routinely keep epinephrine injectors available for emergencies. Unfortunately, some people don't know an allergy has developed until it's too late.

Julie is going to keep an eye on her 6-year-old daughter, who she fears might have inherited the allergy from her father. For now, the family is just trying to figure out how to move forward without John.

"He was a really, really sweet guy and just would do anything for anybody," she said. "He was really, really, really funny. He would always entertain my daughter. He was just all in when he'd play with her."

Source: Fox 13
Photos: WTSP, FOX 13

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