Latest Airline Woe: Scorpions On a Plane!

An Arizona man says he was stung on a Southwest flight by a stowaway scorpion.

BySarah Netter
July 21, 2009, 3:09 PM

July 21, 2009 — -- Scorpions may be common among the rocks and desert in some parts of the U.S., but not so much among the luggage bins at 35,000 feet.

That's where a family of the eight-legged venomous predators were found after one of the stowaways stung an Arizona father during a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Indianapolis.

"I felt something crawling up my leg," he told today. "When I went to go swipe it, it stung my hand."

Herbstsommer, 44, whose hand was numb for about 36 hours after the sting, said he was used to seeing scorpions around his Gilbert, Ariz., home. But his 10-year-old son Jeremy said the same couldn't be said for some of the other passengers.

"They were just, like, getting up on their chairs with their knees up!" he told Indianapolis television station WXIN.

Herbstsommer said it was his son who found some of the rest of the gang in the overhead cabinet once the flight had landed.

One of the babies was already dead, Herbstsommer said, so he took off his flip-flop and finished off two more.

The family, including Herbstsommer's wife and two sons, were on their way to visit family in Indiana.

Southwest Airlines spokesman Marilee McInnis told today that an in-flight medical service was called as soon as the crew realized Herbstsommer had been stung, but they were advised to continue on to Indianapolis, which was at that point only 20 to 30 minutes away.

Emergency medical services, she said, then met him at the gate and a police report was filed with the Indianapolis police. Herbstsommer was treated at the airport.

None of the other 136 passengers were stung, McInnis said, and Southwest is trying to figure out how the scorpions made it on to the flight, something they may never know.

"Apparently they came from his bag," she said. There were six scorpions on the flight altogether.

Herbstsommer, who described the sting as feeling "like being stung by 30 to 50 bees all at the same time," said he doubts the little buggers used his bag to board the plane.

Second Passenger Stung By Scorpion in Phoenix Airport

"Could they have? Yeah," he said. "I had my bag completely zipped up."

Herbstsommer said he had been stung before and knew what to expect, but said someone without that experience could have been completely panicked.

"For the airlines, they should feel pretty fortunate that I was stung and not someone else," he said.

Not long after Herbstsommer regained feeling in his hand, another man was stung at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Airport spokeswoman Alisa Smith told that he was stung at one of the airport's security checkpoints and reported it to an information booth. He was given instructions by poison control before going on his way, she said.

"We live in the desert," she said of the back-to-back stings, "and we've been experiencing a lot of weather."

According to DesertUSA there are about 90 species of scorpions found in the U.S. with the highest concentrations in California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Herbstsommers was believed to be bit by a bark scorpion.

Their stings are not typically fatal in adults, but have been know to kill infants.

Herbstsommer said a woman with a baby was seated in the row in front of him on the flight.

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