Autopsies, funerals delayed by state ME office

By The Associated Press

JACKSON – With only one pathologist in the state medical examiner’s office, some families have had to wait a week or more for their loved ones’ bodies to be released.
Some autopsies get done in a day, but one body was stored for nine days, Lauderdale County Coroner Clay Cobler said. “The family was not happy about that,” he said.
Cobler said the body eventually was sent to a Gulf Coast pathologist. “It’s just not economically feasible to send someone down there every day, so they waited until they had three to send down there,” he said.
Dr. Adel Shaker is Mississippi’s only state medical examiner. Public Safety Commissioner Steven Simpson said he has a verbal agreement with another pathologist to join the staff, but that person might not arrive before March.
“We’ve talked to people from Anchorage to Texas to Alabama to New York,” he said Friday.
Both coroners and medical examiners examine bodies after sudden, violent or unexpected deaths. Some states require coroners to have medical degrees; Mississippi requires a high-school diploma and – after election – certification from the Mississippi Crime Laboratory and State Medical Examiner Death Investigation Training School.
Shaker is a board-certified forensic pathologist, a physician with additional years of training in ways to determine causes of death.
Simpson, the state public safety commissioner, has said he wants a staff of 13 to 15 people in the medical examiner’s office, including a chief pathologist and four or five assistants, including Shaker.