Since the day she was stung nearly 1,000 times, Mary Williams had talked constantly about going home to her sister and the yard that she proudly weeded nearly every morning.
But the 88-year-old woman from Apache Junction, about 30 miles southeast of Phoenix, died about 1 a.m. Tuesday, nearly four days after she was attacked outside her home by a swarm of Africanized bees.
“She told me she wanted me to come home and get the bathroom clean because she hadn’t finished it,” Williams’ niece, Norma Hein, said Tuesday. “She felt so sure she was going to be fine.
“Then it all changed.”
Williams’ death is the first in Arizona and only the second in the nation linked to Africanized bees since the aggressive strain migrated into Texas in 1990, said Keith Meyer, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
The other death occurred in July 1993 in southern Texas.
Williams underwent surgery Monday evening for abdominal pain, but she died as a result of the bee attack, said Tracy Scott, spokeswoman at the Phoenix-area hospital where Williams was taken,
Williams was swarmed when she closed the door of an abandoned structure on her property in the 100 block of South Cedar Drive.
The bees that attacked were Africanized bees, Meyer confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Saturday night, Williams began experiencing abdominal pains, Hein said, adding that doctors suspected that her bowels had quit functioning. Blood appeared in her kidneys and stomach and her arms began to swell, Hein said.
Williams underwent surgery about 5:30 p.m. Monday. “The internal organs were just dead,” Hein said. “Everything had stopped. She was in terrible pain.
“It was the poison and toxins that caused it. There wasn’t anything they could do.”