Skydiving Plane Lands In Water After Engine Failure With No Injuries

OCEAN CITY — A local skydiving plane had to ditch in the bay near the Ocean City Municipal Airport last Sunday after the aircraft had an engine failure.

Around 1:30 p.m. last Sunday, one of the planes belonging to Skydive Ocean City took off from the Ocean City Municipal Airport with five people on board, including the pilot and four skydivers. At 5,000 feet, the aircraft reportedly suffered an engine failure, causing the pilot, identified as Matthew Cortigiani, 25, of Utah, to begin procedures for an emergency landing.

Due to the plane’s proximity to the airport, the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the Sinepuxent Bay. None of the individuals on board were seriously injured, although one individual was transported to TidalHealth Peninsula Regional Hospital for treatment of minor injuries out of an abundance of caution.

Shortly before 2 p.m., the Maryland State Police Berlin barrack received a 911 call reporting the downed plane in the Sinepuxent Bay. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were notified with an FAA representative responding to the scene. The Worcester County Bureau of Investigation also assisted at the scene. The FAA has assumed the crash investigation. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Skydive Ocean City owner Jeanice Dolan said in a later release she and her staff were grateful the incident had a somewhat happy ending.

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“We are all breathing a major sigh of relief that this incident didn’t have a tragic outcome,” she said. “At this moment, my team and I are working with the FAA and local authorities to try and determine what caused the engine failure.”

Following the crash last Sunday afternoon, Tow Boat US and Cropper’s Towing in Berlin partnered on a tricky recovery and salvage operation to remove the downed plane from the bay, an operation that continued until about 11 p.m. on Sunday night. Tow Boat US handled the water side of the recovery, while Cropper’s worked on the land side of the operation.

After several hours, the plane was towed to the edge of the marsh near the airport, where it was lifted by a large crane onto a flatbed. It was then transported to a hangar at the airport for a further investigation.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.