Summer PSA: When Beach Umbrellas Attack
Just another reason to stay inside until fall.
Image via Instagram user insert4coins
Black out your windows, crank up the AC, and wait until the leaves start to change—summer is here and it's probably going to kill you. In an effort to keep you safe this summer, we here at VICE have been tirelessly documenting all the dangers that come with this hellscape of a season, in hopes that a little education and a shit-ton of sunblock will help us get to fall unscathed.
Today, we bring you the latest story of summer's wrath: the tragic tale of a tourist whose attempt at a relaxing beach day was rudely cut short when she was literally impaled by a beach umbrella.
A 67-year-old UK tourist vacationing on the Jersey Shore was hospitalized Monday after a gust of wind at the beach tore an umbrella from the sand and sent it flying through her ankle like a spear, ABC 11 reports.
Emergency responders found the woman, Margaret Reynolds, with the metal frame of the umbrella sticking straight through her ankle. Using bolt cutters, they cut the umbrella to pieces and freed Reynolds, so they could speed her to a nearby hospital.
"It was a beautiful day and a gust of wind blew the umbrella," Reynolds said later, according to NJ.com. "It was just an accident."
According to the New York Post, Reynolds is in "good condition" and is apparently in good spirits about the whole thing—especially considering the fact that she was just trying to relax on the beach and got shish kebob'd by a rogue umbrella—but who is really to blame for this so-called "accident"?
At first glance, it would appear that the blame should be placed squarely on the umbrella itself: It was the one that did the damage, after all. But how is a typically innocent beach accessory sharp enough to pierce human flesh? Since this type of mishap doesn't happen to most beachgoers, the real sinister intent here must have come from the wind. If a violent gust of wind can rip port-a-potties from the ground, it can certainly be strong enough to weaponize an umbrella. Which, according to one bystander, is exactly what happened:
"A really strong gust of wind knocked some umbrellas around and one of them flew into the lady," Ricky Zepeda told the New York Post. "As soon as it happened, she screamed, 'My leg!'"
The umbrella itself was just a tool, in this case, turned from giver-of-shade into a deadly flying spear thanks to a single gust. Fuck the wind!
PLACE TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS:
As if we needed another reason not to go to the beach.
The oceanside may look like a sandy paradise, but that top layer of sand you gleefully bound across barefoot is actually covering a terrifying array of syringes and burning embers and parasitic worms that crawl inside your butt. Plus, there's the constant threat of skin cancer from the sun. Then you have to worry about the sunscreen you use to protect yourself from the aforementioned killing the Earth. Oh, and don't forget the riptides.
Now, on top of all of that, there's also the chance you'll get harpooned by a runaway umbrella. Sorry, everybody. Summer has a lot of cruel and inventive ways to ruin your life, but none more plentiful than at the beach.
Luckily, Reynolds only sustained minor damages from the umbrella, since it only nailed her foot, but the whole thing could've been a lot worse. Only a brief change in the breeze could've sent the umbrella's big pole flying through her gut or one of the tips nicking a major artery, and the whole thing could've gone straight to Final Destination territory. The flying umbrella spear may not have been fatal in this instance, but it definitely has the potential.
Threat Level: 4/5
This has been your summer safety warning for the day. Read, learn, and, for the love of god, just stay inside with the AC on. We can get through this together.
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