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Woman dies after being impaled by beach umbrella in South Carolina

A South Carolina woman was killed after she was impaled by a beach umbrella on Aug. 10, 2022. Getty Images/File

A South Carolina woman was killed Wednesday after a loose beach umbrella became airborne and impaled her in the chest, local authorities claim.

Tammy Perreault, 63, was fatally wounded in the accident when a gust of wind pulled the beach umbrella from its anchoring around 12:40 p.m. at a Garden City beach, Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard told local CBS affiliate news station WBTW-TV.

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Perreault died in hospital nearly an hour later as a result of chest trauma.

Willard told WBTW-TV that the rogue umbrella did not belong to Perreault.

In a statement from Horry County, released Thursday afternoon, authorities call Perreault’s death “tragic.”

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“We understand a number of good Samaritans and off-duty medical professionals did provide initial care to the victim on the beach,” the statement reads.

“Their actions to offer comfort and first aid are honorable and appreciated. Thank you also to first responders from Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Rescue, Horry County Police Department Beach Patrol, and Beach Services, Ltd., who provided emergency medical services and transportation to an area hospital.”

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The statement claims police are “continuing to look into the matter.”

At the time of the incident, winds on the beach were blowing around 16 to 24 kilometres per hour, with some gusts reaching up to 33 km/h, according to News13 Chief Meteorologist Frank Johnson.

Surprisingly, umbrella-related injuries are relatively common. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wrote that “airborne beach umbrellas can be dangerous, even deadly.”

The organization claims it is vital for umbrellas to be properly secured to avoid injury.

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Most beach umbrellas are equipped with a spiked end and anchors designed to push through sand to at least two feet deep (60 centimetres). The CPSC also recommends beach umbrellas be angled against the direction of any winds, so as not to lift the wide canopy from the ground.

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The CPSC claimed 31,000 people were treated in hospitals for umbrella-related injuries in the U.S. alone between 2008 and 2017. The injuries ranged in severity, though most victims were women over the age of 40.

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