‘It’s time to enjoy life’ Harrison Co. coroner not running for re-election

Updated: Mar. 4, 2019 at 2:40 PM CST
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Since 1996, Coroner Gary Hargrove has investigated every death in Harrison County.

Hargrove has decided not to seek re-election this year, so he can spend more time with his family. He has seen a lot in his more than two decades as coroner. Whether it’s a murder, suicide or fatal accident, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove is among the first on the scene day or night.

“This is not 8 to 5. This is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Hargrove said.

After serving 23 years as coroner, Hargrove determined it was time to move on. It wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, he didn’t make it until March 1st, the deadline to qualify for the 2019 election.

“I finally called my wife and said, ‘okay we’re done’. I just felt it was time to go home and be with my family, It’s time to enjoy life,” said Hargrove.

When asked about his most memorable case, Hargrove said two words: Hurricane Katrina.

“Fifty-six dead in Hancock County. Ninety-seven dead in Harrison County. We had all but two identified by the end of December,” Hargrove said.

It took Hargrove several years to make those two identifications. Once he did, he felt he had brought personal and public closure to the coroner’s office.

Hargrove will remain in office until the end of the year.

Before he leaves, he has one clear goal to make the state’s crime lab on Highway 67 operable. The fully functional lab has sat empty for years. Most autopsies have to go to Jackson, and Hargrove is on a mission to get the lab up and running to make solving cases more efficient for local law enforcement and the next coroner.

“It’s something I’ve been working on for years, ever since it was built. The problem has been money, and we think we may have gotten to where we can hire some pathologists and get one assigned down here,” said Hargrove.

Two candidates have qualified to run in the coroner’s race. Both are republicans, so the winner of the August 6th primary will be the next coroner in Harrison County.

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