|OCEAN CITY, Md. — A Texas tourist found dead on the beach early Monday asphyxiated when sand in the hole in
which she was found closed in on her, officials said Wednesday.
Ashley O’Connor, 30, of Plano, Texas, died accidentally of suffocation, according to findings from Maryland's Office of the
Chief Medical Examiner.
“Investigators are still trying to determine what caused that hole to fall in, which is something we may never know, but we’re
still investigating it,” said spokeswoman Lindsay Richard with the Ocean City Police Department.
O’Connor did not drown in vomit or water, Richard said. The woman drowned in sand.
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Officials are awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether alcohol played a role in O'Connor's death, Richard said.
The woman was vacationing with her parents when she became separated from her family around 2 a.m. ET Monday, said
Jessica Waters, spokeswoman for the city. O'Connor was not missing long before her body was found.
At around 6:30 a.m. the same day, beachgoers alerted town employees to the body.
© Megan Raymond, The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times Police tape surrounds the beach July 31, 2017, where the body of a
Texas vacationer was found in a hole in the sand in Ocean City, Md.
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What is not yet known is whether O'Conner fell into the hole or climbed in herself, according to medical examiner.
"Sand is very, very unstable," said Capt. Butch Arbin of the Ocean City Beach Patrol. "What happens is you dig down and it
seems like it’ll stay there, but then suddenly it’ll cave in."
The deeper you go, the greater the risk because once the sand at the bottom of the hole succumbs to the pressure above it
you can have a very rapid cave-in, he said. During the day, the beach patrol strictly enforces an ordinance that no group may
dig a hole deeper than its smallest member.
"It’s not unusual to find a deep hole dug during the night in the morning," Arbin said. "But it’s very unusual for a deep hole
during the day because we’re on alert for them."