While police scour through surveillance videos to figure out how a 30-year-old woman was buried alive, the Town of Ocean City is cracking down on people digging deep beach holes.
The Ocean City Police -- with the help of Baltimore's Chief Medical Examiner -- determined that Ashley O'Connor was buried alive on the beach last week. While many people suspect foul play, the police adamantly believe O'Connor's death was accidental. The woman may have fallen asleep or unconscious inside of the deep beach hole before the walls caved in on her.
Though police are still trying to piece together the four hours between when O'Connor was last seen and her body was discovered, the Town of Ocean City is wasting no time.
Beach patrols are now cracking down on beachgoers who dig deep holes in the sand. Under the town's beach rules, the depth of a hole cannot exceed knee-to-waist height of the smallest person in the immediate area. If someone is surrounded by adults, then beach holes can be a few feet deep. If there are small children or toddlers in the area, beach holes are effectively banned.
Seven years ago, lifeguards were able to resuscitate a 12-year-old boy who stopped breathing when a tunnel he was digging caved in. Ever since, Ocean City has had a beach hole rule on the books.
The township argues that the rule is necessary to protect the public, especially when the sun goes down and holes are less visible. The town is using this tragedy as an opportunity to increase enforcement and awareness of the beach hole rule. While lifeguards are trained to save people who are trapped in collapsed holes, the town's goal is to educate the public on how dangerous deep holes can be. Lifeguards will now focus more on monitoring beach diggers and intervening if beach holes become too deep. Already, children have been reprimanded by Ocean City lifeguards and beach patrols for digging holes that are too deep.
Other organizations are weighing in as well. US Lifesaving Association
Spokesperson Tom Gill hopes that this preventable death will lead to more awareness about the dangers that beach holes present.
"Nationally, there are deaths every year from this and this one in Ocean City is just a horrible reminder of the dangers of holes on the beach. It's a preventable incident. People should not be digging deep holes in the sand for the safety of all those around them and people that come along later."
What do you think? Should this tragedy be a reason for the town to step up enforcement of Ocean City's beach hole rule? Let us know in the comments below.