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Sarah Harkins stings: Family speaks out after pregnant mom dies of wasp attack

Sarah Harkins died from wasp stings late last month, and her story is now receiving worldwide attention. The pregnant mother of four was in her backyard when she accidentally disturbed a wasp's nest. The wasps attacked, and she later died at the hospital. Sarah was carrying her fifth child, and it was a girl. The unborn child also died. WTOP reported on this tragic story on Aug. 3.

Sarah Harkins died after an allergic reaction from wasp stings.
Photo by Mesa Top News Examiner: Video screen cap

Sarah Hawkins was only 32 years old, and she was raising her four young children in Fredericksburg, Va. with her husband at the time of her death. She was highly involved in the raising of her children. She home schooled all four children, and she was ready to add child number five into the mix. It was always her wish to have a big family.

Her death has now left her husband unsure how to handle raising their four young children on his own. He works with the Secret Service, so he will not be able to continue with the home schooling of their children. Sarah's youngest daughter, Faustina, has Downs syndrome. He cannot do the same things she did, but he knows he wanted a faith-based education for his children. The young father is now receiving help. Two online fundraising campaigns have started, and they have raised over $150,000 to help him with the raising of his children.

What caused her death? The wasp stings set off an allergic reaction that triggered an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. Tom Schulzetenberg, Sarah's brother, spoke out about her passing in an interview with NBC News. He said the following about her sudden death and the impact it has had on her family:

"She fell unconscious and went to the hospital, and it was discovered there was a brain aneurysm, and during the trauma of it all, it burst and caused her death. It's something that you never really prepare for. We're doing our best to hold each other up. With Sarah gone, [her husband] Eric is not equipped to do this by himself."

Schulzetenberg also revealed that the family has received donations from as far away as Japan, and he asked people to pray for his family during this time. Before her death, Sarah made clay rosary beads that she sold online. She also wrote a blog that she used to chronicle her life. She posted her last entry in April. Her family posted an announcement about her death on the site last week. It would have been her birthday on Saturday, Aug. 2.

This is not the only death following a wasp attack that happened in July. The death of a mayor in Quebec, Lucie F. Roussel, made news last month. She stepped on a wasp's nest while gardening, according to Dr. Susan Waserman, an allergist in Ontario, said the following about how common deaths of this nature are:

"It's possible, but it's rare. It is not a common phenomenon. Usually, most acute allergic reactions occur within minutes to an hour, and if you have no reason to believe you are allergic, many people are caught off guard, and they don't generally carry an epinephrine auto-injector."

Sarah's death was not only because of the stings though. The stings set of the brain aneurysm she had as well. Her brother did reveal that she had an allergic reaction as a child, but her family believed she had grown out of it. What do you think of this tragic death? Are you allergic to bees or wasps?

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