On Wednesday, July 4, 2018, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police (MD DNR) received a 911 call at 6:40 pm reporting a body floating face down in the water off of North Ocean Beach at Assateague Island National Seashore. A multi-agency search effort between the National Park Service, MD DNR, Berlin EMS, and ATV-patrolling Assateague State Park lifeguards found the body at 7:34 pm approximately 300 yards southeast of North Ocean Beach. A MD DNR police boat located, retrieved, and brought the body to the West Ocean City MD DNR boathouse for transportation to the Worcester County medical examiner’s office. The victim has been identified as Dongjin Hong, 36 years old, from Hartford, CT. Initial autopsy results indicate the cause of death as drowning.
The Assateague Island National Seashore lifeguard protected swimming area at North Ocean Beach is in operation from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm seven-days a week. The Assateague State Park lifeguard protected swimming area is in operation from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, with a lifeguard patrolling on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) until 7:00 pm. Lifeguards and red flags are actively warning swimmers of persistent seaward or “rip” currents along Assateague’s beaches.