Wednesday September 30 10:51 AM EDT

Yellow Jackets Kill 2-Year-Old Boy

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A toddler was stung more than 200 times by a swarm of yellow jackets and died hours later, and authorities are investigating why parents took so long to summon help.

A friend said the adults at the scene simply failed to realize the 2-year-old Harrison Johnson was in real danger, but the parents are members of a religious sect whose members have been in legal trouble over a child's death in the past.

Harrison and his parents, Kelly and Wylie Johnson, were visiting friends at a densely wooded mobile home park near Tampa when the attack happened Monday.

The boy was stung probably 75 times around the head and face and as many as 150 times on the body, Sheriff's Detective Lisa Haber said. Experts estimated that as many as 1,000 insects attacked the boy.

Paramedics were summoned seven hours later and were unable to revive the boy. He died later at a hospital.

The reasons for the delay aren't known yet, Haber said Tuesday. "The parents aren't answering any questions, which is making the investigation more difficult," she said.

Glen Van De Veere, one of the friends the Johnsons were visiting, said the boy was in pain, but otherwise seemed all right.

"Because he didn't appear to have any kind of trauma, we didn't do anything," he said. "Obviously, he was itching and hurting because of the stings, but he had something to eat, had something to drink and was watching TV.

"When he started to vomit and things didn't look right, we called for help right away."

The Johnsons were acquitted in March after being charged with failing to report the 1996 death of an infant whose parents were fellow members of the religious sect, an evangelical group that broke away from a church in Melbourne called the Tabernacle.

The parents, Rachael and Robert Aitcheson, told police their month-old daughter, Alexus, choked to death on regurgitated milk in October 1996 and was cremated during a private ceremony at a relative's farm.

The parents themselves face trial next week on charges of failing to report the death, failing to obtain medical attention for the girl, abuse of a dead body and child abuse.

The Johnsons and two other couples had faced misdemeanor charges because they went to the Aitcheson home the day the girl died, to pray for her.

The religious group was described at the Johnsons' trial as avoiding medical treatment and disdaining governmental requirements like recording births and deaths. Authorities learned of Alexus' brief existence only when the Aitchesons told friends of their daughter's death.

Retired Brevard County Judge Harry Stein acquitted the Johnsons after a three-day trial, saying "it sounds like there was a death, but no one is sure when it occurred."

David Michael Rice
The world's second biggest glutton! (Next to Godzilla)


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