A South Carolina community is mourning the death of Tammy Perreault, a 63-year-old woman who died after being impaled by a loose beach umbrella.
WMBF reports the tragedy took place at around at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday at Beach Access 14 in Garden City, where strong winds pulled the umbrella from its anchor. Witnesses say the object, which had a spiked end, went flying into the air before it ultimately struck Perreault in the chest.
“A gust of wind that came through took an umbrella through the air and it just kept going and going,” recalled Sherry White, Perreault’s best friend who saw the accident. “Everyone says, ‘Duck,’ and we did, but unfortunately she was in the line of fire.”
According to the outlet, off-duty medical professionals attempted to help the woman while they waited for emergency personnel to arrive. Thomas Bell, a spokesperson for Horry County Emergency Management, says Perreault was immediately transported to the ER, but died from her injuries less than an hour later.
“She was the most loving and kind person I think I ever met. She never had a bad word to say about anybody,” White added. “She always put others first and her husband and her were inseparable. If you saw Mike [Perreault], you saw Tammy; if you saw Tammy, you saw Mike. They had a great passion and love for each other … She just loved life. She loved everyone.”
Horry County officials are now investigating the incident. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there were about 2,800 unconfirmed beach umbrella-related injuries between 2010-2018.