The editorial rushing to defend the Town of Ocean City with respect to the lawsuit filed by family of Ashley O’Connor is more than inappropriate because it describes only one side of a story to predict dismissal of the lawsuit. Thankfully, the case is situated in Baltimore where prospective jurors are unlikely to be aware and influenced by the skewed version of facts set forth in the editorial. I will address the “two major problems” with the lawsuit that the editorial highlights and try to tell the rest of the story.
First, the editorial states that Ashley O’Connor walked onto the beach alone around 2 a.m. Video confirms this to be true. The video also confirms that Ms. O’Conner was not carrying with her any type of digging equipment capable of digging a six foot long and four foot deep trench where she was found. This fact did not stop the editorial from suggesting that Ms. O’Connor may have dug the hole herself. Common sense defeats this irrational conclusion. The Town of Ocean City is responsible for maintaining the beach. I am sure every OC employee knows that, at times, some people dig rather large holes on the beach. The hole, aka grave, that existed in this case is likely the largest anyone familiar with the beach has ever seen. It would be hard to miss. Certainly hard to miss during the day if that is when the excavation was made. Hard to miss anyone digging such a trench. Unlikely, that the trench was made after daylight hours but does not necessarily excuse town employees failure to see it. That is an issue for a jury to decide. The equipment used to clean the beach have excellent lighting and it would astound some people if the person operating the equipment were so inattentive they did not see the “grave” while engaged in cleaning the beach. Another jury issue. Simply put, a jury may decide the “grave” was an obvious and open hazard that should have been discovered and covered before the incident involved.
Second, the editorial bemoans that the lawsuit claims Ms. O’Conner died through no fault of her own. The editorial claims Ms. O’Connor caused the accident by her own “poor decision to sleep in a deep hole after drinking.” As a first matter Ocean City allows people on the beach at all hours. There are no warnings posted prohibiting either sleeping on the beach or concerning the presence of heavy beach cleaning equipment. While it may have been imprudent to rest in the “grave”, that action does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Ms. O’Conner was a cause of the accident leading to her death. This is for a jury to decide, not a newspaper editorial.
Bottom line is that this case will work its way through the courts and all parties will have an opportunity to present their evidence to a jury. Given that neither party has had the chance to present their evidence in court, it is premature and irresponsible to predict an outcome at this early stage of the litigation. Shame on The Dispatch for taking sides in this sad case.
Stansell House Celebrated
The completion and opening of the Macky & Pam Stansell House are achievements fueled by the commitment of countless supporters and organizations. Together we raised more than $6.8 million, renovated a building, hired and trained a professional and caring staff, and swung open the doors, ready to deliver on our mission to serve those who are no longer safe at home and need residential hospice at the end of life.
It’s my honor to report back to the community that this mission has been implemented.
Immediately after opening, Stansell House received its first patient. Since then, we have continued to receive patients on a regular basis, and we are both humbled and honored to be able to now care for our community in this way.
Stansell House is the only and first ever residential hospice house on the Lower Eastern Shore, and it closes a gap that existed between home-based hospice care and the high complexity inpatient care we offer at Coastal Hospice at the Lake.
A physician I know once stated that the only condition that has a 100% mortality rate is life itself. Every one of us will face this challenging time at some point in our lives, and as an organization we stand ready to be by your side.
Thank you to everyone who embraced this vision. Your support has brought, and will continue to bring, dignity to those who need this care the most.
(The writer is the CEO of Coastal Hospice.)
Teens Not Being Targeted
The House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has been looking at whether Juul actively marketed its products to American children. This issue has received significant attention both nationally and here in Maryland. I think we all can agree that our community’s youth shouldn’t be consuming nicotine. The lifelong health impacts of addiction at early ages are evident, and that’s why in Maryland, members of the vapor community like myself have supported tough marketing standards and penalties for anyone who breaks the law by selling vapor products to minors.
However, when discussing this issue, it’s important to cut through the talking points, stick to the facts, and focus on the entire issue. Several opinions from members on the subcommittee, as well as stakeholders in the national media, have regurgitated many of the false narratives and misguided conclusions that have polluted this discussion and unfairly targeted smoking cessation products like e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
The truth is smoking among teens is way down. Those who feel strongly about this issue should educate themselves before placing such undue blame on devices and technologies that were designed to help adults kick their addiction to deadly cigarettes. These products were never designed, marketed, or intended to target teens — it is absurd to assert that they were.
We must not lose sight of what’s at the heart of this issue. Cigarette use is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Vapor products are 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco products like cigarettes and among the most effective tools to help adults stop smoking. Unwarranted blame and criticism from those who only wish to address one side of the issue will only hurt those looking for help on the other.
The Board of the Friends of the Ocean Pines Library (FOPL) would like to thank all the wonderful contributors to our successful 2019 Annual Book Sale on July 26, 27, and 29.
To our many volunteers, thank you for your unending hours of hard work and your unflagging enthusiasm. To the members of the community who donated over 25,000 books (a new record) thank you for choosing us for your support.
And finally, thank you to the hundreds of shoppers who supported the wonderful programs of the Ocean Pines Library and shopped “till they dropped.” We couldn’t have done it without all our wonderful supporters. Thanks to you all.
(The writers are book sale co-chairs.)
A Vanishing Tradition?
It all started in the late 1950’s when three men were responsible for bringing the tradition of Telescope pictures to Ocean City from Florida. Jim “Norris” as he was known and Wally and Bob. Back then the city only charged them around $100 for five licenses each.
I personally took Telescope Pictures for three years back in 1969, 1970 and 1971. I worked for both Wally (one year) and Norris (two years). I read with regret the July 26, 2019 article how the new ownership of Telescope Pictures wants to remain relevant. Unfortunately, the town of Ocean City/City Council and Technology will bring the demise of telescope pictures.
The current generation of people all have cell phones. Why would one purchase a picture on a chain for $5 or $6? The quality of the current photo can’t compare to the vibrant transparencies of the past.
Also, Ocean City has grown past 33rd Street from back in the 60s, 70s and early 80s. The original owners (Norris, Bob and Wally) each had businesses on the Boardwalk. Families strolled the Boardwalk at night after dinner and picked up their pictures that were taken earlier in the day. Unfortunately, times have changed and the majority of families that stay north of 33rd Street are not comfortable on the Boardwalk in the evening.
I knew two previous owners, Jeff Bacon and Todd Ferrante. They each successfully ran their business for a few years back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, the main reason they ended their run was the extremely “large fee” the City Council charged for the licenses .
Unfortunately, the Camerons will have a very big challenge ahead. The City Council’s fee of $152,500 plus the rent they will be paying for two pick-up locations will make it almost impossible to turn a profit in 90 days.
I wish them good luck. And they can thank the City Council for putting an end to “Telescope Pictures.”
David Fox DDS