BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Detectives have concluded their investigation into the death of a Texas woman found on the beach in Ocean City last month.
A rare and tragic accident beneath the sand in Ocean City, as a vacationer walked onto the beach, then vanished overnight.
Ashley O’Connor, 30, was vacationing in Maryland from Plano, Texas. Her body was found in the sand in the area of 2nd Street in the early morning hours of July 31.
Three weeks after vacationers discovered O’Connor’s body buried beneath the sand in Ocean City, investigators have pieced together only some of what led to her death.
Detectives spent weeks combing through surveillance video, searching for clues. They have determined that O’Connor walked onto the beach alone around 2 a.m. that morning and sat in a hole that was about three or four feet deep. At some point, it collapsed on top her.
Only an arm sticking through the sand alerted beachgoers to the body beneath.
Now, weeks later, the yellow tape has come down, and investigators say they’ve pieced together only some of what led to the eerie crime scene in Ocean City.
“There are questions that we’ll never have truly answered,” said Ocean City PD Chief Ross C. Buzzuro.
What the evidence does say is someone unknowingly dug what would become O’Connor’s grave.
She was visiting from Texas and accidentally separated from her family, when, in the dark, early morning hours, police say – while legally drunk – she climbed into a deep hole left on the beach.
“How the hole collapsed, she unfortunately is the only person who will know,” Buzzuro said.
Buzzuro says she died under the weight of the sand, unable to breathe.
“I’ve lived in Ocean City for over 40 years, and this is probably the biggest tragedy, or one of them, that has occurred during that time period,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said.
A tragic, but hardly isolated incident.
Collapsing sand has swallowed 31 lives worldwide in the last decade.
Why, and how, it happened here will stay a mystery.
“We’re never going to be 100 percent certain what happened after Ashley walked out onto the beach,” Meehan said.
There has been some speculation that beach sweeping tractors driving nearby may have triggered the sand collapse that killed O’Connor, but police say that’s unconfirmed.
There is a rule in Ocean City: People can dig, but only knee high to the smallest person in their group. Beach patrol says they enforce it everyday.
Because the death was ruled to be accidental, a comprehensive toxicology report will not be completed. However, an autopsy revealed that alcohol was a factor in the incident.