Beekeeper Tragedy in Woodlawn

-Ron King

I haven’t worked in a year. After 21 years at the same company, I was let go in July 2020. Since then I’ve put in over 300 applications for similar positions to only encounter what I assume is age discrimination. And I’m sad.

Then yesterday happened. I awoke about 9 am, looked up and my ceiling fan was stopped. I thought “maybe I turned it off when I got up at 6? No, the clock was off too, power is out. Then I heard sirens getting louder and louder, I assumed a pole was hit which happens and will take a couple of hours to restore. But the sirens grew louder and louder. I went to my backdoor and over my fence, I could see tops of trucks. Firetrucks, Power trucks, police vehicles lining my corner of 15th St. I threw on some clothes and walked out my gate.

A policeman immediately came up and said, “Can I help you?” “I live here, what happened?” “Stay back and I will get with you shortly.” I walked up and down the street and saw most of the action was down the alley near my truck, I saw a bucket trailer with an orange blanket draped over the end. I asked one of my neighbors “what happened?” “A guy got electrocuted, I think he was moving bees” “Huh?” There were rescue workers, a myriad of people, a priest…

I was trying to figure out what really happened. Once, again the police told me to stay back. After 2 hours I had the story. A beekeeper tasked with moving a hive struck the powerline and died instantly. There were two priests, grief counselors, and more people swarming my neighborhood. The beekeeping outfit had shown up and I watched them solemnly remove his belongings.

A heaviness came over me. The man had a son in college. He was in his 50’s.
As the forensic team finished the trucks cleared and there it was just me and two of my neighbors. There was also the tree and the powerline. The tree now clearly you could see the hive and how close he was to the wire. I explained to the others, “The insulators at the top of the pole, even though that’s the thinnest line it’s the high voltage line and the power might have just jumped to him.” Everybody was just somber and I was feeling heavier.

Now with everyone gone, I could see the tree, the spot where it happened, clearly marked at the hive. I could see it from the road, I could see it from my backyard, I could see it from my couch with the window open. I thought yesterday morning “great, my power went out too”

Now I have a constant reminder that a 54-year-old man, a year older than me lost his life at that instant my eyes opened. It haunts me every moment.
I hope they cut that tree down soon. Or maybe it’s there to remind me what’s important.

For there but the grace of God go I.

Jeffery Johnston, I did not know you but you saved my life, just for today.

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