McGarry's passing raises concerns about coast death investigations

McGarry's passing raises concerns about coast death investigations

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - No final decisions were reached during a Monday afternoon meeting between coast coroners, district attorneys and the state's chief medical examiner. They were addressing concerns about future autopsies in South Mississippi, following the weekend death of longtime forensic pathologist, Dr. Paul McGarry.

Dr. McGarry helped investigate deaths in South Mississippi for 35 years and performed countless autopsies in Harrison, Hancock, Jackson and Stone Counties.

"At some point, I may be coming back to the board for your support to help us get funding for Dr. LeVaughn to get a fulltime pathologist assigned to this facility down here so we can do things that we have in the past," said Coroner Gary Hargrove, as he addressed Harrison County supervisors Monday.

Dr. Mark LeVaughn is the state's chief medical examiner. He met Monday afternoon with coast coroners and district attorneys to talk about "what's next."

"Harrison County has a state of the art facility that was built particularly for Harrison County after Katrina, that we've not fully used to its potential," said Supervisor Windy Swetman. "Now is an opportunity for Harrison County, and the state for that matter, to use this facility."

When he was hired as chief medical examiner four years ago, Dr. Mark LeVaughn told reporters his goal over time was to regionalize the state, with satellite offices in the north and in the south. And keep the main office in central Mississippi. One option coroner Hargrove strongly opposes is transporting bodies to Jackson for autopsies.

"With this facility being built out there and being state of the art, there is no reason for us to have to take our loved ones to Jackson to have autopsies done," said Coroner Hargrove.

The coroner says for now, they'll proceed on a case by case basis, with more discussion to come on whether the coast will get a fulltime pathologist.

Coroner Hargrove says funding is one of the big issues that will determine whether a fulltime pathologist is assigned to South Mississippi.

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