Crime & Courts

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Coroners gather for day of training

Lecture discussed autopsies of famous bodies

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Coroner, EMS and police officers from across two states gathered at Georgia Health Sciences University Friday for a day of additional training.



Stephen Cina, the associate medical director of University of Miami Tissue Bank, regaled the crowd on his experiences with the autopsy of famous bodies, specifically Anna Nicole Smith, and why he wants to throw objects at his television when CSI comes on.

More than 50 professionals from across Georgia and South Carolina attended the lectures.

Cina specifically helped the crowd develop a plan if a high profile fatality happened in their area.

He related the lecture to his personal experiences as deputy chief coroner in Broward County, Fla., doing the autopsy of Anna Nicole Smith.

Security was so intense following the celebrity’s death that Cina personally got to keep watch over the body the first evening to ensure paparazzi didn’t take pictures of the body without permission.

“There’s nowhere you can run from these high profile cases,” he said.

“You’re not going to be able to escape if one of these happen in your jurisdiction.”

Augusta had it’s own high profile case in 2006 when James Brown died.

With celebrities flocking to the area throughout the year for the Masters and other events, local authorities said the potential for more high-profile deaths is also possible.

“Every lecture you pull something out of,” said Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen.

Although the symposium was meant to further education professionals in the field, it’s location held a deeper meaning.

Carl Eubanks, the director of tissue donor services at GHSU, said organizers chose to have the event at the medical school to try and create a deeper relationship between the tissue bank and coroners across Georgia and South Carolina.

Eubanks said the tissue bank relies on that relationship to get more tissue donors.

If a patient dies in a hospital, a representative from the tissue bank is able to meet with the deceased’s family to discuss tissue donations. However, if a patient dies outside of a hospital, Eubanks said he relies on the coroners to relay the information so the deceased family also has the option.

Tissue donation has become critical as more tissue banks have resorted to removing jugular veins from cows to use for babies’ hearts.

Since the tissue bank created that relationship with Richmond County coroners two years ago, tissue donation have increased 20-30 percent, Eubanks said.


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