Salisbury, NC-- It was a routine garden chore that Patricia Vaughan might have done any day without a second thought, but on Wednesday it cost the well known former teacher her life.
"She was just out trimming deadheads off the rose bush," her grief stricken husband Keith told WBTV on Friday. "And she ran into a yellow jacket nest."
Patricia, who taught in Cary and at Cleveland Elementary School in Rowan County, was stung several times. She went inside her home and applied Benadryl cream, but then a short time later passed out. Keith called 911, the Locke Fire Department and First Responders arrived quickly.
"They were great, they administered the first help, then took her to Rowan Regional Medical Center," Keith Vaughan added. "At the emergency room there was nothing they could do, it was too late."
Keith Vaughan says his wife suffered an allergic reaction to the stings. He said she had been stung before but had never suffered an adverse reaction.
Now as he prepares to bury his wife he struggles to understand what happened, but hopes at the very least it will serve as a warning to others.
"My pastor said that God has a plan," Vaughan told WBTV. "And maybe part of his plan is to warn other people of the possibilities, and if we can get the word out, I feel like God's plan will be helped in some way."
Patricia Vaughan's funeral was scheduled for Saturday.
People can have a range of reactions when they're stung by yellow jackets or other pests, so WFMY News 2 turned to the medical professionals at Optimus Urgent Care in Greensboro for their expertise on dealing with stings.
Physician Assistant Phillip Land says there are degrees of allergic reactions. They can range from small skin irritations and swelling around the sting, Land said, to the most serious reaction of anaphylactic shock.
"In this kind of a reaction, your lips can start to swell, your tongue can start to swell and your airway or throat can start to close," Land said. "That's the most dangerous part. You can't breathe. And then panic ensues and it makes it even worse."
If someone starts to go in to anaphylactic shock, call 911 immediately, Land said. And do your best to support the person's airway.
If you know you're allergic to stings, always have an EpiPen with you, he recommends. And Land says it's important to note you can't be allergic to something to which you haven't been exposed. So, the only way to tell if you're allergic to stings is to be stung. And he says each time you have another allergic reaction, it will generally get worse.
WBTV/WFMY News 2