Miss. close to hiring new state medical examiner - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Miss. close to hiring new state medical examiner

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By Cheryl Lasseter - bio|email|twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - An offer is on the table for a candidate for state medical examiner.

The Department of Public Safety also plans to hire three more certified forensic pathologists to ease the backlog of autopsies.

The family of 20-year-old Mia Washington worried they would have to delay her burial because  of the backlog. Washington was killed in a Tuesday morning wreck involving a school bus on Highway 51 in Hazlehurst.

Washington's body was autopsied Thursday, but the family had previously been given a longer timeline.

Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart says his heart goes out to families who have to wait. "In reality, what that did was make some other family go through the same thing," he says. "It's a quick fix for this one case, but it's not a fix for getting our autopsies done in a timely manner."

Right now, Mississippi has just one certified forensic pathologist, but handles roughly 1,700 autopsies every year. Currently, some bodies are being sent to Biloxi or other locations because of the backlog at the crime lab in Jackson.

Greg Merchant is the President of the Mississippi Coroners' Association. "Delays are not good for anybody, not good for us as coroners or families." He says, "Right now (Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson) is working very hard and very diligently to hire a forensic pathologist, bring him on staff."

There are fewer than 350 certified forensic pathologists in the United States, according to Merchant.

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