The 30-year-old woman who was found partially buried on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, died of suffocation after walking onto the beach alone, police said Wednesday.
Ashley O'Connor walked onto the beach about 2 a.m. Monday, according to a preliminary investigation. Her body was found more than four hours later, in a hole mostly covered by sand.
Her death has been ruled accidental, caused by asphyxia due to suffocation, a medical examiner determined.
O'Connor was found partially buried with just an arm showing above the sand, police said. A beachgoer discovered her body 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.
Police said it's not yet known how O'Connor, who was visiting from Plano, Texas, became buried in the sand.
One possibility they are looking at is the victim was asleep or unconscious and was accidentally run over by one of the tractors that comb debris from the beach each night, News4's Mark Segraves previously reported.
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The woman's mother and stepfather alerted police she was missing. O'Connor had gotten separated from them about 2 a.m., 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."
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Ocean City Police at 410-723-6604