A 46-year-old Pennsylvania woman was in stable condition Monday at a Salisbury hospital a day after she was impaled in the chest by a wind-blown beach umbrella in Ocean City, officials say.
“She’s doing OK, she’s recovering,” said Peninsula Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Gwenn Garland.
The woman, who was not identified, was sitting on the beach around 3:10 p.m. Sunday when a wind gust sent an unattended rental umbrella hurtling toward her, said town spokeswoman Jessica Waters.
Emergency crews cut off the end of the umbrella, leaving the tip in her chest until she reached the medical center, Waters said. The woman remained alert and conscious, she said.
Medics took her by ambulance to a landing zone, and a Maryland State Police helicopter transported her to Salisbury, she said.
“It’s just a clear example of how, if an umbrella is not properly installed or left unattended, it only takes one gust of wind to have it be a very serious hazard to somebody,” she said.
Such incidents, though rare, are not unprecedented. Last week in New Jersey, a beach umbrella pierced a woman’s ankle. And five to seven years ago, an umbrella impaled someone in Ocean City, Waters said.
Some beach communities in the United States have banned tents and canopies in recent years, citing safety concerns, among other factors. Rehoboth Beach, Del., last year banned canopies and tents except for small tents meant for infants, though umbrellas are still permitted.
Waters said Ocean City has wider beaches than Rehoboth, adding, “We don’t have a density issue they were running into.”
She said Sunday’s incident highlights the need for beach visitors to make sure umbrellas are attended and properly secured in the sand.
“Umbrella safety is a regular topic of discussion for our beach patrol members,” she said.