OCEAN CITY — After the second major coastal storm in a week passes through the mid-Atlantic region, the search for a second victim and more wreckage from last week’s plane crash off the coast of the resort is expected to resume.
Late last Wednesday night, a Cessna 172S Skyhawk airplane occupied by a flight instructor and a student pilot went down off the coast of Ocean City near the Ocean City Municipal Airport. The Maryland State Police, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard and Maryland Natural Resource Police (NRP) and other allied agencies, began an extensive search.
Late last Thursday afternoon, significant pieces of the wreckage along with one of the victims were recovered in an area about five miles off the resort coast. The recovered victim is believed to be the flight instructor, Banica Richard Robinson, although Maryland State Police officials said this week that has not been confirmed pending the completion of an autopsy.
Late last week, a monster coastal storm arrived in the mid-Atlantic causing the search and recovery efforts to be suspended. The search and recovery efforts did not resume throughout the weekend and into the early part of the week because of the lingering conditions associated with last week’s storm.
On Tuesday night, a second nor’easter arrived off the mid-Atlantic coast, bring heavy rains, high winds and rough seas. However, with the storm expected to pass through the area early Wednesday night and conditions expected to improve, the MSP, along with the NRP and the Coast Guard, is expected to resume the search on Thursday.
“The weather hasn’t been cooperating and we will continue to keep a close eye on the conditions and monitor them carefully, but the plan is to resume the search efforts on Thursday,” said Sergeant DaVaughn Parker of the MSP Office of Media Communications on Wednesday. “The plan is to pick up right where they left off. They left markers around the search area and the hope is those markers are still in place after the back-to-back storms.”
According to the National Weather Service, the conditions are expected to improve in the area on Thursday as the second storm passes. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s with clear skies and winds averaging around 15 mph.
Sometime Wednesday evening, a Cessna 172S Skyhawk airplane left Martin State Airport in Baltimore County en route to Ocean City. The occupants of the plane have been identified by the U.S. Coast Guard as pilot and flight instructor Banica Richard Robinson and flight student Marcson Ngwa.
According to a Coast Guard release, the plane was seen practicing touch-and-go landings at the Ocean City Municipal Airport on Wednesday evening. Shortly after 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 1, federal officials notified the Maryland State Police (MSP) Special Operations Division that the aircraft had not returned to Martin State Airport as expected.
When it was determined the plane did not return to Martin State Airport as planned and was not located at the Ocean City Municipal Airport where it had last been seen, a multi-agency search effort in and around the Ocean City Municipal Airport was initiated.
Around 11:30 a.m. last Thursday, an MSP Aviation Command Trooper 4 and Civil Air Patrol crew located what was described as an oil slick in the ocean about 1.5 miles from the Ocean City Municipal Airport. According to sources, an airplane tire was found floating in the oil slick.
According to the MSP, rescue personnel continued to focus their search on the area late last Thursday afternoon. Throughout the afternoon on Thursday, sources have confirmed debris consistent with an airplane had been recovered in a vast area off the coast, including some as far as five miles out. In addition, a Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) dive team was searching for possible victims in the area where the oil slick was discovered.
Shortly before 5 p.m. last Thursday, Maryland State Police, the NRP and the Coast Guard conducted side-scanning operations in an underwater debris field. The debris field was located approximately five miles from the initial oil slick.
Rescue personnel determined the aircraft was in a severely deteriorated condition and a body was recovered from among pieces of the plane. The recovered body was a male wearing the same clothing as described on the pilot who left Martin State Airport the day before, presumably Robinson.
Search efforts concluded just before 6 p.m. last Thursday as weather conditions deteriorated along the mid-Atlantic coast. The MSP Underwater Recovery Unit with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, the NRP, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, MSP troopers and members of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center will resume the search and rescue operation when the investigation continues. A command center was established at the Maryland NRP Boathouse at the commercial harbor in West Ocean City.
Little is known about the victims at this point. Marcson Ngwa’s Facebook page identifies him as a self-employed entrepreneur and aviator and a banner picture on the top of his page shows an airplane cockpit. His Facebook page reveals he posted a “today’s motivation” every day without fail.