HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - For more than 30 years, South Mississippi has relied on a local pathologist to perform autopsies. However, since Dr. Paul McGarry in January, the way the coast's coroners and investigators do business has changed.
"He primarily worked Jackson, Harrison, Hancock, some Pearl River and Stone County. With his death, that put us in a situation where we fell back in the state system," Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said.
Since Dr. McGarry's death, all autopsies have to be done in Jackson. Hargrove says this poses a problem because it requires too much money and too much time.
"The transport cost is something we've never had to endure that we're enduring now, which is a burden on the taxpayer and the county. We pay anywhere from $600 to $800 per case to transport them from the coast to Jackson and back," Hargrove said. "I'm pretty anxious to get this up and going out on 67 because I think it's going to not only help the state take a load off of Jackson, but also be able to get our autopsies done quicker."
Chief John Miller with Biloxi's Police Department agrees with Hargrove, saying that not only will the stress be off of Jackson pathologists, but the stress will also be off of family members who have lost a loved one.
"Anything that we can do to eliminate as much stress on the family as we can needs to be done. It's something that could happen a little quicker in a lot of cases and we can discuss things with the family in a much quicker, timely manner," Chief Miller said.
With a new facility funded, Coroner Hargrove says the next step is staffing which he's optimistic will happen sooner than later. Coroner Hargrove also says a pathologist has applied to the full-time position, but waiting on his licensing to come through so he can be put to work on the coast.