Wednesday, February 21, 2007
by blogger jgl
AAFS Annual Meeting (Bring Your Own Slides - BYOS):
Anyone see that movie Magnolia? It begins with a scene where a forensic scientist is describing a case where a person jumps out a window and gets shot on the way plummeting to his death. If I have my facts straight, that was a real case described in one of these BYOS events. It is occasionally heralded as the best part of the AAFS meeting. It is a 2 hour informal session of forensic scientists talking about unique cases.
This year was pretty decent. The following is my interpretation of some of the stories told. I try to be as accurate as possible.
There were a couple presentations concerning the identification of Katrina remains. New Orleans coroner Frank Minyard told the story of how FEMA wanted him to go to Houston after the storm; instead, he drove back into the city, then swam back to his flooded coroner's office. The morgue there was useless. A group was stranded there for the famous 4 days without food or water.
Dr. Minyard and some other noble forensic pathologists, along with DMORT (a federal group that did a GOOD job during the disaster), put forth quite an effort in the aftermath processing and identifying the dead in a make-shift morgue created north of the city. One of the highlights of his story included them having to use a tent to "hide" the transfer of bodies from the morgue to the hearse - This was in order to prevent the media from hovering in helicopters hoping to get a money shot. Also, apparently FEMA spent a good bit of money building a nice morgue that was finished just as the last body was identified in the "make-shift" morgue. When New Orleans wanted to use it to perform autopsies once normal crime picked up in January of '06, they were denied use because federal regulations do not allow the morgue to be used for "normal" state autopsies. Apparently it just sits there unused. Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.