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Family escapes swarm of yellowjackets thanks to strangers

Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 18:26:03-04

RED RIVER GORGE, Ky. (LEX 18) — You may have heard the phrase "kicking the hornet's nest."

For one group hiking in Red River Gorge, stirring a nest of yellowjackets led to a chaotic situation. One man in their group was struggling to breathe because of an allergic reaction, and there was no relief in sight.

Leslie Lindsey says their Sunday hike started much differently, with laughs and jokes along the trail.

They were determined to see Copperas Falls in Red River Gorge.

"And my brother started yelling out 'something stung me.' And started swatting at his clothes," said Lindsey. Someone had kicked a nest of yellowjackets. Lindsey's daughter, Addie, was among those swarmed.

"She tripped and fell, and hurt her ankle, and hit her head. She was like, 'I'm getting stung.' And panicked," said Lindsey.

But they escaped the wasps and eventually reached the falls.

"And it was pretty, but I had noticed Ryan had started coughing. I'm a nurse, his wife's a nurse, we just knew better," said Lindsey.

Lindsey says her brother's had a small reaction before but this was different.

Ryan rushed back down the path to find help while Addie ran for cell phone service.

"All I could just keep thinking was I need to get there as fast as I can. We need to find help as fast as we can," said Addie.

Their prayers were answered. One group of hikers had Benadryl, and more strangers shielded Ryan from stings as they searched for a safe path out.

Addie found cell service to call for help. Then finally, someone came with an Epipen.

"And Ryan was aware enough to say 'just do it,'" said Lindsey.

Eventually, they drove Ryan to the hospital, where he was treated and released within hours. He did suffer a rebound reaction on Monday, but is recovering now, and has returned to work.

"It was terrifying, but at the same time, it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever had the privilege to see. Especially in the times we're living in right now," said Lindsey.

Lindsey says she's trying to track down everyone who helped that day, and her post has more than 300 shares on Facebook.

They've also wasted no time preparing safety kits for the next hike, including plenty of Epipens and Benadryl.