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Bees get on the loose in Sturgis, send 3 to hospital

STURGIS, S.D.-- Stirred up bees from an apiary at a home in Sturgis during the motorcycle rally over the weekend sent three people to the hospital.

Rain fell on and off during this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota. These motorcyclists took no chance to get rained on with their umbrella in this photo taken on Sturgis' Main Street. Submitted photo
Rain fell on and off during this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota. These motorcyclists took no chance to get rained on with their umbrella in this photo taken on Sturgis' Main Street. Submitted photo

STURGIS, S.D.- Stirred up bees from an apiary at a home in Sturgis during the motorcycle rally over the weekend sent three people to the hospital.

Sturgis police said the bees stung the beekeeper at his home where the bees were being kept and also two police officers who responded to the scene.

One officer was stung 47 times.

Police said Sunday night all three men were doing fine after undergoing treatment after the incident on Friday night about 7 p.m. when officers responded to a call where Italian and Russian honey bees had been "stirred up."

"It was an absolute crazy half hour," said a police dispatcher.

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Law officers had to close the area down and advised people to stay in their homes until the bees were under control, according to Police Chief Geody VanDewater.

VanDewater says additional professional help aided in that effort to get the bees under control.

A dog also died from bee bites at the home.

The rally ended over the weekend with a crowd estimated at possibly 450,000 attending, a far cry from the possible crowd of up to 1 million last year for the 75th anniversary.

The official number won't be known for about a month as Sturgis officials use various factors to determine the crowds, including data from the state Department of Revenue from rally sales. Counters are also put on roads leading into Sturgis to record the number of vehicles entering during the weeklong event that often starts early and continues for a few days after.

With the smaller crowds, deaths associated with the rally were way down this year. There were three fatal accidents this year compared to a brutal 18 last year in the Black Hills area.

There were 50 injury accidents compared to 124 last year.

DUI arrests seemed to be high this year as 187 tickets were written, compared to 196 last year.

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Drug arrests were down, however, at 226 compared to 254 last year. Authorities seized almost $16,000 in drug money and nine vehicles this year, compared to almost $23,000 and 13 vehicles last year.

The names of the last of the three who died in a fatal crash was released Sunday. Donald Keaton Jr., 60, Kansas City, Missouri, has been identified as the person who died Friday afternoon in a motorcycle crash on South Dakota Highway 79, four miles south of Newell.

Keaton Jr. was driving a 2007 Harley Davidson north when a deer ran into the roadway and collided with the motorcycle.

The driver lost control and the motorcycle slid into the southbound lane where it was hit by a southbound 1999 Dodge Ram pickup. Keaton Jr, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The passenger, Deana Cover, 64, Kansas City, Missouri, suffered serious non-life threatening injuries and was transported to the Rapid City hospital. While the female passenger was wearing a helmet, it is unknown if the driver was. David Ronsberg, 55, Moorhead, Minn., was driving the pickup. Both he and the passenger, Tamra Motschenbacher, 49, Fargo suffered minor injuries. Both were wearing seatbelts.

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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