HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A South Carolina woman was killed Wednesday afternoon after being accidentally impaled by a beach umbrella, according to Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard.
Tammy Perreault, 63, was at a beach in Garden City when a powerful gust sent the umbrella flying, the sharp end of the pole striking her in the chest, according to Willard. Perreault died a short time later at an area emergency room. Willard said the umbrella didn’t appear to belong to Perreault.
Horry County said it’s “continuing to look into the matter” and its “thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim as they navigate through this difficult time.”
There were 10-15 mph winds with gusts up to 21 mph on Wednesday, according to WBTW Chief Meteorologist Frank Johnson. The winds were out of the west. The temperature was in the low 90s and the surf was normal.
Horry County-operated beach rules ban shading devices that obstruct a lifeguard’s view of an area. Shading devices also can’t be within 10 feet of an established umbrella line. Shading devices must also be secured.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends spiking beach umbrella poles into the sand at least 2 feet deep. The umbrella should be tilted into the wind to prevent it from blowing away. The base should also be anchored and sand should be packed around the base.
About 5,512 beach umbrella injuries were recorded to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System between 2000 and 2019, according to a study published in the Journal of Safety Research in 2021.
Wind was a cause in 50.6% of beach umbrella injuries. About 16.6% of the incidents included injuries to internal organs. Most injuries occurred in women over the age of 40.