A skydiving plane crashed into Sinepuxent Bay Sunday afternoon, sending five people into the water. Thankfully all five were able to be rescued without serious injury.
Skydive Ocean City tells Bay Bulletin one of their pilots and four skydivers took off from Ocean City Municipal Airport. When they reached 5,000 feet, an engine failure prompted the pilot to “begin procedures for an emergency landing,” the skydiving company says.
The pilot, Matthew Cortigiani, 25, of Utah, told Maryland State Police that smoke filled the cabin of his single-engine plane as he attempted to shut it off. He redirected back to airport , but bounced off the runway and crashed into the bay east of the end of the runway.
Witnesses called 911 around 2 p.m. and state police responded along with Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP). All five people were pulled onto civilian boats by Good Samaritans, and NRP later transported them by boat to land to be evaluated. The Ocean City Fire Department took one of the plane’s occupants to the hospital with injuries, “out of an abundance of caution,” Skydive Ocean City says.
The company’s owner and founder, Jeanice Dolan, said in a statement, “We are all breathing a major sigh of relief that this accident didn’t have a tragic outcome. At this moment, my team and I are working with the FAA and local authorities to try and determine what caused the engine failure.”
The National Transportation Safety Board, Worcester County Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are involved in the case, and FAA responded to the scene where they will investigate a possible cause.
Skydive Ocean City was founded in 2002 and the company points out in its statement, “has had a sterling safety record in its 19 year history of operations.”
-Meg Walburn Viviano