Chief Medical Examiner Uncovers the Why and How of DeathsOct 15, 2012
by Zack Harold
|Forensic toxicologist Kristen Bailey extracts blood from a sample to determine if drugs are present at the state Medical Examiner's Toxicology Lab on Virginia Street West. A chief toxicologist, two histologists and four forensic toxicological analysts staff the lab. They handle about 4,000 cases per year. Courtesy of Brad Davis
While some doctors devote their lives to keeping people alive for as long as possible, there are others who spend their days with the dead, wondering how they got that way.
Dr. James Kaplan has served as West Virginia's chief medical examiner since 1997. Though he originally planned to become a doctor of the living, a brush with death investigations in medical school changed his career path forever.
"It was love at first sight," he said.
Kaplan was working at a hospital in Charleston, S.C., and decided to take an autopsy rotation. The hospital didn't have any autopsies scheduled, however, so Kaplan got to work under the local forensic pathologist.
He found the combination of science and crime investigation "intoxicating."
Source: Charleston Daily Mail