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Lawsuit dismissed from federal court in death of woman buried in beach sand in Ocean City in 2017

OCEAN CITY — The lawsuit surrounding the death of a woman who was accidentally buried alive on a Maryland beach by a tractor has been dismissed from federal court.

The Daily Times reports that attorneys representing Ocean City and the victim’s mother filed a joint motion Tuesday stipulating the dismissal of the claims with prejudice. It doesn’t say whether there was a settlement, but documents filed earlier this year stated that both parties had made “substantial progress toward resolution” and were hopeful the matter could be resolved soon.

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In this Monday, July 31, 2017, photo, Ocean City Police carry out buckets of sand to be sifted from a deep hole that was dug around the area where a body was found. Police say the body of Ashley O'Connor, a 30-year-old Texas woman, was found buried on the beach with just an arm above the sand. (Megan Raymond/The Daily Times via AP)
In this Monday, July 31, 2017, photo, Ocean City Police carry out buckets of sand to be sifted from a deep hole that was dug around the area where a body was found. Police say the body of Ashley O'Connor, a 30-year-old Texas woman, was found buried on the beach with just an arm above the sand. (Megan Raymond/The Daily Times via AP) (Megan Raymond/AP)

In the lawsuit filed in 2019, Gayla Lutyk and her attorney say town workers’ negligence caused her daughter, 30-year-old Ashley O’Connor, to be trapped in the sand in 2017. The lawsuit alleged that workers didn’t investigate whether anyone was on the beach before twice driving a tractor over the Plano, Texas, woman as it covered holes. The suit sought $1 million in damages.

Ocean City officials had stated that a medical examiner ruled O’Connor’s death accidental, caused by asphyxia due to suffocation.

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Edward Brown, attorney for Lutyk, declined to discuss the case when contacted Tuesday. Bruce Bright, who represented Ocean City, couldn’t be reached for comment.

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