Two victims who died after a plane crashed into the water off the coast of Ocean City have been identified as Ocean City police officers.
Authorities recovered the bodies of Thomas J. Geoghegan Jr., 43, and Joshua D. Adickes, 27, from the wreckage Monday afternoon.
"Both officers were dedicated and courageous both on and off duty," read a statement from Ocean City. "They had a true love of life, which they demonstrated in their professional and personal pursuits. They exemplified the finest character and their passing is a tremendous loss to the Ocean City Police Department family."
Geoghegan, 43, of Ocean City, was originally from Annapolis. He had started as a seasonal officer in 1991, but had also worked as an undercover narcotics detective and was currently assigned to the patrol division.
Adickes, 27, of Berlin, is originally from Long Valley, NJ. He joined the police department as a seasonal police officer in the summer of 2011 and was hired as a full time officer in 2012.
Both officers worked the same patrol shift.
Maryland State Police say the wreckage of the Nanchang CJ-6A was in about 30 feet of water, a quarter mile off the beach from 130th Street.
Geoghegan was the owner of the plane. Authorities believe he was piloting.
Divers who found the plane had to work in zero visibility and rough waters, authorities said Monday afternoon. They had been forced to temporarily suspend the search around 1:15 p.m. due to dangerous conditions caused by an approaching storm front.
Mayor Rick Meehan says witnesses told police that the aircraft spun out of control Sunday before crashing.
The plane crashed in full view of some alarmed beachgoers. "As the airplane was going up, he was going up high," Stephen Drake, from Bel Air, Md., told News4. "Then he shut the engine off and came down and he was doing barrel rolls and just a death spiral....
"And he looked like he wanted to come up out of it, and the engine started to start and then it died again, and he went into another spiral down, and he was too low to pull up, and he just went in," Drake said.
One of the first calls about the crashing plane came from a witness aboard a recreational craft in the water, according to the Coast Guard.
Authorities believe the plane took off from the Ocean City Airport between 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. yesterday. They are still unsure where the men had planned to travel.
The bodies of both men will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for autopsies.
The Coast Guard, Maryland state police and the Ocean City Fire Department were part of the search, which also involved the state police helicopter.
Officials with the Ocean City Police Department released the following statement Monday afternoon:
It is with great sadness that the Ocean City Police Department confirms that two of our police officers were the victims in yesterday’s plane crash in Ocean City. Both officers were very dedicated and courageous both on and off duty. Their love of life was clearly demonstrated in their professional and personal pursuits. They exemplified the finest character and their passing is a tremendous loss to the Ocean City Police Department family. As we deal with this difficult time, we ask that you respect the privacy of their families and peers. Maryland State Police and Federal Aviation Authorities continue to handle the investigation. When the time is appropriate, we will release more information about our officers and their distinguished service to the community.
Copyright Associated Press