Boss steps in after stingA routine trip to the freezer turned to a harrowing trip for a prep cook at the Buffalo City Rotisserie Grill last month.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
A routine trip to the freezer turned to a harrowing trip for a prep cook at the Buffalo City Rotisserie Grill last month.
Karen Newman of Jamestown had just three minutes to get to medical help after she was stung by a hornet on July 27, and had it not been for quick thinking by Paul Butenhoff, the restaurant’s general manager, she might not have made it.
“He’s my hero. I owe him, big time,” Newman said.
The cook was retrieving a box of fish from the Grill’s outdoor freezer when a hornet started buzzing around. She thought she’d managed to shoo it away, but when Newman took her hat off, the hornet stung her.
She ran and told Butenhoff what had happened, and rather than trying to make it to the Jamestown Regional Medical Center outside of town, Butenhoff decided to head for Sanford Clinic instead.
“I felt very scared. I was very concerned for her,” Butenhoff said later. “I have asthma myself, so I know what it’s like to not be able to breathe. I’ve not had that drastic allergy like she does, but I do know what it’s like.”
By the time they reached Fifth Avenue, Newman’s throat was already beginning to close up as part of her body’s reaction to the sting.
“He got me there just in time. Two more minutes and I wouldn’t have been breathing,” Newman said.
She remembers walking in and going downstairs, where clinic staff took her blood pressure, looked at her throat and got a doctor right away. Then they started injecting her with epinephrine and Benadryl and kept a close eye on her throat.
While they worked on her, Newman’s blood pressure shot sky-high, and then plummeted, as she went into anaphylactic shock.
When the stinger was pulled out, it looked like it was about a centimeter long, Newman said.
While she knew she was allergic to stings prior to the incident near the freezer, she’d never had such a severe reaction before.
A 1995 brush with a bumblebee had merely left her throat feeling a little tight, and because the kits for bee stings cost nearly $300, Newman didn’t carry one. Another sting last year on a trip to Montana had been quickly solved with a shot from an epinephrine autoinjector called an EpiPen, used to treat or avert allergic reactions.
“I almost died. Now I know how bad it is,” Newman said, vowing to carry a “bee kit” around in the future.
She’s also been wary about going outside. Up until that week, the outdoor freezer hadn’t had so many bees and hornets buzzing around.
The day after the sting, Newman was back at work, though her headache lingered for days afterward.
Newman credited Butenhoff’s quick thinking for saving her life.
“I can’t thank that man enough. I owe him my life,” she said.
Butenhoff, for his part, said he was just thankful Newman was safe.
“She’s like family to us,” he said.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at