Woman Impaled in the Chest by Windswept Beach Umbrella in Maryland
A 46-year-old woman is expected to survive after she was impaled in the chest by a flying beach umbrella during a trip to Ocean City, Maryland, on Sunday.
A gust of wind picked up the “unattended” umbrella and swept it down the beach, Ocean City spokeswoman Jessica Waters tells PEOPLE. The woman was struck in the chest, with the wooden tip of the umbrella stuck just below her left collarbone.
Police and fire department officials rushed to the scene and had to cut the umbrella in half so the woman could be transported first by ambulance then airlifted to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, according to Waters and ABC News.
Waters says the woman was “conscious and alert” when she was transported and she is expected to make a full recovery, according to WMAR. Maryland State Police shared footage of officials airlifting the woman from the beach. Ocean City Beach Patrol Cpt. Butch Arbin tells PEOPLE the woman is doing well and told him she is “blessed that the injury was not more severe.”
“The injured woman and her three friends were amazingly calm throughout the entire incident,” Arbin says. “The attitude of the friends was positive. One of them even asked if she could drive the ambulance.”
The incident comes just days after 67-year-old, Margaret Reynolds, a tourist from London, England, was impaled in the right ankle while sunbathing on a New Jersey beach last week.
She was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune after part of the umbrella hit and pierced through her right ankle “due to the force of the wind,” Seaside Heights Police Detective, Steve Korman, told The Asbury Park Press.
Officials had to use a bolt cutter to remove the umbrella before Reynolds could be taken to the hospital, Borough Police Chief Tommy Boyd told the Park Press. And a witness told NJ Advance Media that the umbrella went flying after “just a gust of wind.”
“It got really windy and I could see an umbrella pass by,” he recalled. “I heard someone scream ‘my leg, my leg’ and I looked over and I could see what happened.”
As beach season is well underway, the city has reissued a warning about beach umbrellas from Beach Patrol Sgt. Ed Fisher. According to Fisher, high winds can send umbrellas barrelling down the beach at speeds of 20mph or more. In a statement, Fisher said the high winds “mixed with an improperly set umbrella, can mean trouble.”
Fisher urged swimmers to have beach staff properly install their umbrellas, and make sure to face the umbrella toward the wind to prevent the air from picking up the item.