(Aug. 10, 2018) Dive teams scurried to West Ocean City on Tuesday after a couple notified police they had found an apparent “seaman’s chest” that contained a piece of bone.
Lt. Ed Schreier, with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, said the discovery occurred around 9:30 a.m. roughly 20-feet offshore from Homer Gudelsky Park, commonly referred to as ‘Stinky Beach,’ by area residents.
“An out-of-town couple from Ellicott City were in the water and stumbled over something embedded in the sand,” he said.
Schreier said the couple tried and failed to dislodge their find, so opened it to inspect the contents.
“They reached in and pulled out a shoe and broken pottery,” he said. “One object they pulled out appeared to be a bone.”
Alarmed and uncertain if the remains were human or animal, the couple contacted authorities, Schreier said.
Sheriff’s deputies at the scene believed the item was a bone and contacted the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation, which came to the same conclusion, thus leading to a visit from an investigator from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Meanwhile, Maryland State Police and Maryland Natural Resources Police Dive teams attempted to remove the container from the sandy bottom, but were thwarted by a rising tide. As what had been a half-foot of water rose to five feet, the object disappeared from sight.
“Visibility was less than a foot and the current was moving fast,” Schreier said. “Divers had to diligently search the bottom floor of the bay by hand to relocate the object.”
With the setting sun further hampering visibility, Schreier said the decision was made to return on Wednesday.
The response resumed about 11 a.m. on Wednesday and dive teams were able to wade in shallow water and more easily locate the item.
“After examination, it was determined that the object was a barrel made of wood and it was deteriorating quickly,” Schreier said.
“Divers methodically began digging around it in an attempt to remove it from the sand,” he said. “Those attempts were unsuccessful due to the barrel falling apart.”
Next, Schreier said a decision was made to dig out the inside of the barrel to identify the contents, with only sand, clams and mussels uncovered.
At that point, Schreier said the operation was shut down with the suspected bone sent to Medical Examiner’s Office to be identified.