Ten-year-old Ryan Smith, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, accidentally steered his electric wheelchair into a foot-deep wasps' nest Tuesday afternoon. The wheels lodged in the nest, and Ryan was too weak to swat the wasps that attacked. His father was stung 35 times trying to rescue him.
"They were swarming all around him. . . . He was screaming for me to come help him," said the father, Bruce Smith. "I can't imagine what he went through in the 5 to 10 minutes before I was able to jerk him out."
Ryan, who weighs only 44 pounds, had about a dozen stings on his tongue alone. His other stings were too numerous to count. Ryan's father covered the boy with a comforter and rushed him to the family's pool a few hundred feet away.
Highland City paramedics answered a 911 call at the home. Ryan was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center and then flown by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
As the wasps' venom coursed through his body, he recited vocabulary words, multiplication tables and worried about whether his accident would postpone the family's vacation.
His family isn't thinking much about the vacation right now. Ryan died early Wednesday.