Woman killed on South Carolina beach by umbrella caught up in gust of wind

Woman was impaled by pole of a beach umbrella, authorities said

A woman was killed on Wednesday in Garden City, South Carolina, after a loose beach umbrella impaled her in the chest, according to authorities.

The umbrella was blown by the wind from its anchoring in the sand at around 12:40 p.m., hitting Tammy Perreault, 63, in the chest, Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard told news outlets.

Perrault was taken to the Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries, local news station WMBF reported.     

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Scotty’s Beach Bar in Surfside Beach posted on social media about Perreault and the loss, according to Fox 8.

"Today with heavy hearts we mourn the loss of a dear friend and kind-hearted local, Tammy Perreault," according to the post. 

"Some things we will never begin to understand but what we do know is no one has a bad thing to say about this woman. To be as sweet as her day in and day out should be a goal for all."

Beach umbrellas can pose a hazard when they come loose from their anchoring in the sand and are caught up in gusts of wind.

Beach umbrellas can pose a hazard when they come loose from their anchoring in the sand and are caught up in gusts of wind. (Getty Images)

About 3,000 people are injured by beach umbrellas every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A beach umbrella’s wide canopy allows it to get caught up in a strong wind if it is not anchored properly, while the spiked end poses a danger, the group noted further. 

In 2016, Lottie Michelle Belk of Chester, Virginia, was killed by a flying beach umbrella on Virginia Beach in a similar manner.

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In that instance, a beach umbrella anchored in the sand was picked up by a strong gust of wind, blowing it into Belk’s body.

Police said the umbrella stabbed Belk, 55, in the chest — and her cause of death was penetrating blunt force trauma, according to local station WTKR.

Safety tips for beach umbrellas include tilting the umbrella into the wind — and anchoring the base of the pole with some weight to stabilize it.

Safety tips for beach umbrellas include tilting the umbrella into the wind — and anchoring the base of the pole with some weight to stabilize it. (REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, Democrats in Virginia, asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review beach umbrellas and start a safety campaign in 2016, after Belk’s death.

In 2019, the senators wrote to the agency again, reported the Virginian-Pilot, suggesting they consider an effort similar to July 4th safety campaigns or the successful "Safe Sleep Campaign," which educated parents about making baby nurseries safer.

A beach umbrella’s wide canopy allows it to get caught up in a strong wind if it is not anchored properly, while the spiked end poses a danger.

The commission recently reported on its website that Andrew Newens, directorate for Engineering Sciences, was scheduled to participate in a teleconference with a Beach Umbrellas Task Group on July 27, 2022.

"This conference call was requested by ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] to discuss the creation of a new standard test method for the strength and durability of consumer beach umbrellas," the website noted.

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Fox News Digital reached out to Newens for comment

Fox News Digital also reached out to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for comment.

The U.S. Consumer Products and Safety Commission was asked by two senators in 2016 to evaluate beach umbrellas for safety.

The U.S. Consumer Products and Safety Commission was asked by two senators in 2016 to evaluate beach umbrellas for safety. (iStock)

The commission offers the following five tips for beach umbrella safety on its website:

1. Spike your beach pole umbrella into the sand.

2. Firmly rock it back and forth until it’s buried at least 2 feet deep.

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3. Tilt it into the wind to keep it from blowing away and hurting someone.

4. Anchor the base of the pole with some form of anchor or weight.

5. Ensure that the sand is well-packed around the base.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.