A woman was severely injured on Alabama’s Gulf Coast this week when a strong gust of wind uprooted a 6-foot beach umbrella, causing it to fly through the air and impale her leg. The incident occurred approximately two days before Hurricane Idalia made landfall on the neighboring Florida Gulf Coast. The woman was immediately transported to a trauma hospital, according to Deputy Chief Jeff Smith of the City of Orange Beach Fire Department.
Smith, who has been with the department for 27 years, expressed his shock at the incident. He stated that while they are trained to handle a variety of injuries, this was the first time he had encountered a beach umbrella impalement. The emergency call came in just after 9 a.m. on Monday, with firefighters responding to the beach off Perdido Beach Boulevard.
The accident took place in front of a private condominium. An attendant was in the process of closing the beach umbrellas due to the high winds when the incident occurred. Upon arrival, the emergency crew found the woman with the beach umbrella impaled through her lower leg, having been dislodged by the strong wind.
Despite the severity of her injury, the woman remained conscious and alert at the scene. Smith reported that she remained calm and was standing when the umbrella struck her. To transport her safely, paramedics had to cut the umbrella shaft on both sides of her leg. She was airlifted in stable condition to a trauma center in Mobile and is expected to make a full recovery.
The umbrella was found to be about 6 feet in diameter. The incident occurred roughly 48 hours before Hurricane Idalia hit Florida’s Big Bend near Keaton Beach on Wednesday morning. In anticipation of the hurricane’s landfall, the fire department had been cautioning people to stay out of the water and be careful in the area.
Beach umbrella incidents, while rare, can cause serious injuries and even fatalities. Last year, a woman in South Carolina was killed when she was impaled by a beach umbrella.