NEWARK, Del., (CBS) — A tractor-trailer driver has been cited in connection with a crash in Delaware Tuesday that freed millions of bees.
Troopers charged Adolfo Guerra, of Miami, Florida, for having an unsafe load/cargo after the tractor-trailer he was driving overturned on the northbound ramp of 896 to northbound I-95 in Newark at about 6:10 p.m. Tuesday.
A preliminary investigation determined that the truck was hauling approximately 460 bee hives totaling an estimated 16-20 million honey bees, which were being transported from Florida to Maine for pollination purposes.
The ramp was closed until it reopened at about 7 a.m. Wednesday.
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Investigators say as Guerra was negotiating the turn of the ramp, a load of wooden crates shifted, causing the tractor trailer to overturn on its left side on the ramp, striking the guardrail.
After the impact, swarms of bees were released from the crated hives that saturated the area, causing hazardous conditions.
“I was loading the car up over here and then I saw bees everywhere,” Mike Gray said.
Gray, a tow truck driver who was called to the scene for an unrelated disabled car, said he had no idea the bees had been freed from the hives originally contained in the pallets the tractor trailer was carrying.
“I’ve seen eggs and chickens, but never a bee truck flipped over,” Gray said.
And it’s not every day you see first responders swatting away and brushing off before suiting up to get on the job. In fact, it wasn’t long before they called for backup.
“They’ve been traumatized, they can get a little irritable,” said beekeeper Paul Dill.
It turns out that this was the first time in 14 years the Delaware State Police Department had to utilize its “Bee Swarm Removal Plan.” The first step actually calls for rounding up the local beekeepers, who together with fire crews, strategically disperse the bee swarms.
Guerra was taken to Christiana Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries from the crash and 50 to 100 bee stings.
Two passengers in the tractor trailer — a 24-year-old male from Miami, Florida and a 25-year-old male from Hialeah, Florida were also taken to Christiana with minor injuries. Both suffered an estimated 50-100 bee stings each.
The crash remains under investigation.