Body Found Off Assateague

ASSATEAGUE – A Pennsylvania man was found floating face down in the water near the Virginia end of Assateague Island National Seashore last week, becoming the second fatality in the waters in and around the resort area in as many weeks.

Last Thursday, the unidentified man was found floating in the water just north of the life-guarded beach at the Virginia end of the Assateague Island. CPR was administered on the victim, who could not be resuscitated, and he was pronounced dead by the Virginia medical examiner’s office. Little has been made public about the victim other than he was male and from Pennsylvania.

The body was transported to the Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office for a complete autopsy, the results of which were not available as of late yesterday. Rough seas and rip currents caused by the presence of Hurricane Bertha off the mid-Atlantic coast last week resulted in thousands of rescues by beach patrols from Virginia to Delaware including Ocean City, but it in unclear whether those conditions contributed to the death of the victim.

“We are saddened by the loss of life and value all who visit our National Seashore and want to ensure enjoyable and safe surroundings,” said Assateague National Seashore Superintendent Scott Bentley after the discovery. “We want everyone to have a leisurely day at the beach, but even beautiful beaches have dangers. Visitors to our life-guarded beaches and any beach resort should pay particular attention to warning signs and flags that are posted near the swimming shorelines.”

Assateague uses a flag warning system to provide swimmers with information about conditions from a double red, indicating the beach is closed, to a green flag, which indicates conditions are normal with a red flag and a yellow flag in between. It is uncertain which flag was flying the day the victim from Pennsylvania was found.

The tragedy was the second of its kind in as many weeks in the resort area. On Friday, July 11, Ocean City Police were contacted by Delaware authorities to assist with the recovery of a dead body floating in a canal in north Ocean City near the Delaware line. The body, later identified as Ricky Lee Crippen, 38, of Witman, Va., was initially discovered floating in the bay near the state line in Fenwick Island.