- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - The death of longtime Mississippi Gulf Coast forensic pathologist Dr. Paul McGarry is raising concerns about future autopsies in South Mississippi.

For more than 30 years, McGarry performed autopsies for investigations across the coast. Despite his age, he was still working when he died of complications from pneumonia in Ocean Springs on Saturday. He was 86.

Mississippi coroners do not perform autopsies. Instead, they oversee investigations into deaths and order autopsies, but those autopsies must be performed by board certified forensic pathologists.

McGarry was the only certified pathologist on the coast.

Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus and Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove met Monday with Mississippi State Medical Examiner Dr. Mark LeVaughn, and local district attorneys Tony Lawrence and Joel Smith, about how autopsies will be handled going forward. No decision was reached.

Hargrove would like to see a full time pathologist assigned to South Mississippi and make better use of the new facility on Mississippi Highway 67 that has a morgue and needed equipment to perform autopsies.

Among the options available is for LeVaughn’s office in Jackson to send one of its forensic pathologists to the coast, perhaps on a rotating basis.

Broadus said she had four pending autopsies at the time of McGarry’s death. The state sent a forensic pathologist to the coast to handle those cases.

One option 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 Hargrove.

For now, Broadus and Hargrove will proceed on a case by case basis with more discussion to come.

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