MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A child narrowly missed being hit by a beach umbrella flying down a South Carolina shore. His mother is now warning other parents and beachgoers about the potential danger that has resulted in death in the past.
Ashton Duggan of Waxhaw was with her husband and son in North Myrtle Beach over the weekend. She was taking a video of the toddler hanging out by the shoreline around 10 a.m. when their umbrella came flying through, nearly slamming into little Henry.
"Out of nowhere this umbrella just flies and misses him probably by six inches. It was terrifying," Duggan said.
Luckily, the toddler caught sight of it and moved out of the way just in time. He got away unscathed, but his mother was left shaken by the incident. She says a lifeguard had dug the hold for their umbrella, and they felt sure it was secure.
"He was probably about five to six yards away from me. The beach was pretty empty at the time. When that happened, I didn't know what to do. I think I threw down my phone and said 'oh my gosh,' and I just ran."
Duggan says the lifeguard was horrified by the event as well. She says he came over and apologized, hugging the family.
"You just never know what's going to happen and how life could change in the blink of an eye."
She says it wasn't too windy that day, but when a strong gust came along, Duggan says it picked up about six umbrellas along the beach. She says it was good the beach was so empty at the time.
"Be super aware of your surroundings," Duggan said. "A flying umbrella almost flipped our world upside down."
She says she wanted to share the video to raise awareness for others of the quickly a dangerous situation can strike.
"I really do think that God's hands had ahold of Henry that morning and I'm thankful for the outcome and that I was able to capture something like this to spread awareness for others. I hope to save a life this summer and summers to come."
Just last summer, a British woman was impaled by a flying beach umbrella on the New Jersey shore, and another woman was struck in the chest on a Maryland beach. One woman was actually killed at Virginia Beach in 2016.
"You do hear these stories happening every year, and you never really believe it until you see it with your own eyes."
She's warning beachgoers to be watchful and stay safe this summer.
"I think it's really important to be aware of your surroundings at all times of the day," Duggan said. "Everyone just needs to be on the lookout at all times."