A Plano woman found partially buried in the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, died of accidental suffocation after walking onto the beach alone, police said Wednesday.
Ashley O'Connor, 30, walked onto the beach at about 2 a.m. Monday and was later discovered in a hole, mostly covered by sand, according to a preliminary investigation.
Her death has been ruled accidental, caused by asphyxia due to suffocation, a medical examiner has determined.
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Police said it's not yet known if O'Connor fell into the hole or climbed in on her own. A beachgoer discovered her body at about 6:30 a.m. Monday.
"They alerted a city employee, who then alerted police, and we immediately arrived to begin a death investigation," said Lindsay Richard, of the Ocean City Police Department.
O'Connor was found partially buried with just an arm showing above the sand, police said.
At about the same time, the woman's mother and stepfather alerted police she was missing. O'Connor had gotten separated from them about 2 a.m. that morning, said Ocean City communications manager Jessica Waters.
"The last time she was seen, she was walking out onto the beach alone," Richard said.
O'Connor's body was removed from the sand about 4:15 p.m. Monday, city officials said. State police crime scene technicians assisted Ocean City police's Forensics Services Unit.
"At this time, we don’t think there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding this incident," Richard said. "So no, I don't believe there’s any reason for the public to be nervous about being on the beach at night."
One possibility they are looking at is the victim was asleep or unconscious on the beach and was accidentally run over by one of the tractors that comb debris from the beach each night, News4's Mark Segraves previously reported.
Though officials believe O'Connor's death was accidental, the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Ocean City Police at 410-723-6604