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May 8, 2013 7:34 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Mt. Hopkins climber stung to death by bees

UPDATE: An autopsy on the climber who died over the weekend has shown the man died from a massive bee attack, according to the county medical examiner.

MOUNT HOPKINS - A Tucson man was found dead in the Santa Rita Mountains hanging off a cliff from his climbing gear on Monday. He had been missing since Friday.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies responded to the call just after 5pm Monday when Steven Johnson, 55, who is an experienced climber, did not show up to work.

Johnson was working an area of Mount Hopkins to prepare it for future climbers. He had his dog with him.

A spokesman with the sheriff's office told News 4 Tucson that a friend saw a posting on Facebook asking about Johnson's whereabouts, which ultimately led them to Johnson. However both Johnson and his dog were dead by the time search and rescue teams reached them.

While the cause of death has not been determined just yet, sheriff's deputies told News 4 Tucson that Johnson was covered with bee stings when he was found.

Johnson is described as a father, climber and friend, who was well-liked throughout the climbing community in Southern Arizona.

"It's devastating news for the Tucson community, for sure, he was a very prolific climber in Tucson," said John Mavko, who works at Rocks & Ropes, a climbing facility frequented by Johnson.

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