Frantic aid effort after beach umbrella impaling recalled
By BOB KALINOWSKI, The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice
Jul. 29, 2018
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — Christian Legath of Foster Twp. sprinted from his lifeguard stand to aid the Kingston woman gored in the chest by the tip of beach umbrella.
Even in that traumatic moment, they shared a laugh over their Luzerne County ties.
After summoning medics and grabbing hold of the umbrella pole to prevent it from moving, his role was to keep her calm and obtain information, like where she lived.
"When she said 'Kingston,' I was like, 'Oh my gosh, we're neighbors.' She giggled and gave a little laugh, but laughing was a little difficult for her with something in her chest. But she was pretty calm," Legath said.
While she was in pain, she was alert and wasn't bleeding, he said.
Legath, 22, said he held the umbrella pole steady while talking to the victim, Jill Mendygral, 46, and trying to keep her eyes off the wound.
Mendygral was impaled in the upper chest when the unattended beach umbrella uprooted and darted at her during a sudden wind gust on 54th Street.
Legath said he knew he had to keep the umbrella still until help arrived — and certainly never thought of removing it.
"We never remove anything larger than a small splinter," Legath said.
When the fire department arrived, they used a circular saw to cut the pole near the entry point of Mendygral's wound.
They left the tip of the pole inside her. Mendygral was airlifted to a regional hospital, where surgery was completed. She is still recovering.
A statement from Mendygral's family issued earlier this week said she suffered "excruciating pain and trauma" and thanked all who came to help her during the emergency.
Legath noted it was a "small world" that an incident that got worldwide attention would involve two people from the same area of Pennsylvania.
The tragedy should have never happened, Legath said, because it wasn't a very windy day. He stressed that beachgoers must make sure umbrellas are staked 18 to 24 inches below the surface of the sand and tilted into the wind.
Legath, a graduate of Marian Catholic High School in Tamaqua, is spending his fifth summer working for the Ocean City Beach Patrol. And it might be his last, since he'll be entering his senior year at East Stroudsburg, where he is pursuing a dual major in biotechnology and business management.
Being one of the more experienced lifeguards for the beach patrol, Legath said he felt he was able to approach the incident in a calm manner. He said he radioed for help without any sense of panic and had fellow lifeguards establish a large perimeter around the victim to keep only friends and family nearby.
"In these five years, I've come to the point to be ready for anything," Legath said. "But this was a first."
Information from: The Citizens' Voice, http://www.citizensvoice.com