Father of mountain fall victim: He was training to be a Marine - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Father of mountain fall victim: He was training to be a Marine

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Josh Ruzsa Josh Ruzsa
PHOENIX -

Two of three hikers, attacked by a massive swarm of bees, were able to take cover. The third was not as fortunate.

19-year-old Joshua Ruzsa died after he slipped and fell while trying to reach higher ground.

Firefighters say the group had ventured off the trail to do some rock climbing when the bees attacked.

Josh's family is devastated. He and the two others he was with were all getting ready to join the Marines. They hiked Camelback Mountain regularly.

His family heard about the bee attack Monday afternoon and was very worried. After few hours, the police knocked on the door.

Josh Ruzsa was set to start boot camp in just 3 weeks.

"I believe my son would have been a great Marine," says Denis Ruzsa.

Josh's dad Denis, his mom and sister say the 19-year-old spent the past year training.

"He was already to go do something, always wanting to get together, have a good time. He always wanted me to go for a hike with him," says Autumn Ruzsa.

Monday, Josh was on Camelback Mountain with two other recruits. Josh was leading the group when the bees attacked.

The two other men found shelter in alcove -- Josh ran for higher ground but in the chaos, fell.

"I don't want to talk about my son's death. I want to talk about what he could have been and what he had become," says Denis Ruzsa.

After high school, Josh was determined to become a Marine. He paid his own way through school, passed the entrance exam and couldn't wait to get started.

"He was very excited. He would put on a 60 pound pack and he would run from our house to Thunderbird Park and run to the top of the mountain and jog to the bottom and run back home. He would to that every day and it wasn't a big enough challenge, so he was to go to Camelback Mountain with his fellow recruits."

The other two recruits are still in the hospital. Firefighters say they were stung more than 300 times each.

With his recruiters standing behind them, Josh's family says he wanted to be in the infantry on the front lines.

"I am proud of my son. I love my son and I miss my son... your children are supposed to outlive you. He was only 19 years old. He died on October 29. And he would have been 20 years old on December 29. He had his whole life ahead of him."

Josh was also a talented musician and a skateboarder, his family told us.

The two other recruits are 18 and 20 years old. They are expected to make a full recovery.

These three hiked the mountain often and while they were off the trail, they were in an area that is still quite popular.

Josh's family says the group had never encountered swarms of bees before.

The firefighter who went in to pull the two other victims from echo canyon talked about the experience during a news conference earlier Monday.

"At one point I had to wipe my face clean [of bees]. I had the bee suit on fortunately and I had to wipe my face clean so I could see them," says rescuer Todd Lentz.

"I've never seen kids have to endure what they did. They were up there probably an hour just being attacked. The fact that they were able to keep themselves calm, lay down and just take it is amazing to me."

Those surviving hikers are in the hospital but are expected to recover. Their names haven't been released.

To donate: Josh Ruzsa Memorial Fund, Wells Fargo Bank

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