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Mahoning coroner opted not to go to scene of triple fatal auto accident

Published: Mon, April 26, 2010 @ 3:31 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — Dr. David M. Kennedy, Mahoning County coroner, said today that he was notified shortly after three people died in a car that crashed into a house in Campbell Saturday morning.

  Campbell Tragedy

Three people are dead after a Saturday accident in Campbell, OH.

Three people are dead after a Saturday accident in Campbell, OH.

He elected, however, not to go to the scene of the 5:03 a.m. crash himself or send Dr. Joseph Ohr, forensic pathologist and deputy coroner, to the scene, because he perceived it as an obvious auto accident death case for which a site visit was unnecessary.

Instead, Dr. Kennedy called a body-removal team to take the bodies, which firefighters had extricated from the wreckage, to the morgue at Oakhill Renaissance Place. The coroner ruled that the deaths were caused by a motor vehicle accident.

“It was an automobile accident. I don’t think we were going to learn much from the scene besides what we got from the police investigation,” Dr. Kennedy said.

As of April 19, Dr. Kennedy stopped sending his investigators to death scenes because of his budget being cut in the county’s budget crunch. Coroners’ investigations will begin the next business day, he said.

For the complete story, see Tuesday’s Vindicator and Vindy.com


1valleyresident(24 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

What a poor decision by the Mahoning County Coroner. The coroners office should had helped the investigation with the Campbell Police. Juveniles dont always carry identification on them plus with the speed the police said they were going and the impact into the house probably made it hard to identify the victims with the severe injuries. The coroner should had opened his office to the police department and these families so they could had 100% Id'd the victims on Saturday. No family should have to wait until Monday to know the faith of a loved one. The coroner should be held accountable by the county.

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2MrsMac(13 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

He should be fired. He was playing a polital game at the expense of these families facing a horrible tragedy. FIRE HIM!

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3spin(15 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

A coroner or forensics examiner is an official chiefly responsible for investigating deaths, so it is his job to be where victims are. Sadly he was not doing his job. My thoughts and prayers go to the families of the deceased, such a sad tragedy, for the young.

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4NilesOhio(987 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't understand all the venom flying around. It's obvious why these young people died.

It's all the slant that the article uses. If the article said "The coroner was paid $350 to go to an obvious auto accident scene to rule the cause of death", people would be saying that he should be fired for wasting taxpayer's money.

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5Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

"As of April 19, Dr. Kennedy stopped sending his investigators to death scenes because of his budget being cut in the county’s budget crunch. Coroners’ investigations will begin the next business day, he said."

What is so hard to understand? April 19th he came out with this statement. Quit trying to throw the coroner under the bus. No one said a word about it on the 19th but now it's getting way blown of proportion. Move on.

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6whocares(4 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

another 1-term politician with a medical degree. Why was the car going so fast? Any other pieces to the puzzle? no? How does he know unless...If my kid didn't come home and I heard he/she was in this car earlier, you bet I'd be screaming for his head, making the parents wait til today for an ID. Ridiculous what these politicians get away with around here. I will be campaigning against this "idontcare" ass when he starts politiking. And that is what this is all about, playing politics with a tragedy! Too bad about the 1 layoff in his office, he still has 2 more + himself. Maybe there's room for 1 or 2 more in the unemployment line. It's not like there's a line leading into the morgue with dead bodies. Why do we need even 3 in the office? You're GONE, Kennedy!

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7valleyresident(24 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I think a lot of people are missing the point here. Yes it is obvious the victims died because of a car crash but who were the victims. The coroner needs to be available so they could identify the body and law enforcement could get started on the investigation. Law enforcement cant Id a person if the coroner takes the body and refuses to open the office so they can conduct the investigation.

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8jimc51(58 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

and he refused to apologise to the families he needs to step down and give that job to someone that cares.

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9asone2002(1 comment)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

ive been at the scene of several fatal accidents and the protocol always was that the body was not moved til the coroner showed up and pronounced the person dead. Why would budget cuts change that? That is the County government ignorant way of trying get taxes raised in a stupid election. they should be out to that scene ASAP so the family could be notified. I think they should fire everyone in the coroner office that had part in the decision not to go out there.i bet if you look at payroll logs you will see alot of wasted overtime $$ spent since the first of the year.

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10woolyd(579 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

The bottomline is he neglected his duties as a paid professional. Derelict of duty

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11Annie53(21 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow............how self-centered can you get? Did Kennedy cuddle up in his nice warm bed and go back to sleep after the call?

Elections and politics aside..........this guy has racked up some really bad karma............glad I'm not him.

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12CassAnn(252 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

He's on salary- it is his responsibility as a public servant to step up to the plate and fill in the gaps or step down and let someone who WILL have the job. This is part of what is wrong with most professions these days. They want the cushy jobs and salaries and don't think they should have to work for it anymore. When is the last time you heard of a Dr answering his own after hour calls anymore? I bet you he is still driving a car that costs more than the average persons home too.

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13Nunya22(315 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

@asone2002 If the coroner cant be at the scene where the dead body is for whatever reason. I believe they send some people by I dont know what their title is and they can take the body to the morg. I am just going by what was done on the death of my family member. Just was a thought that came to me not all the way sure if thats how they do all deaths. Also they use to always send all dead bodies up to Cleveland. And they would always be so backed up but this was back in 08/09 so I dont know how much things changed now if any change has happened.

I really dont know what else to say on this topic but may all the ones who lost their life in this accident rest in peace.

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14thecol75(8 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I agree Kennedy should have gone to identify the kids just out of kindness but please.....there were budget cuts because we as a community didn't pass certain tax hikes. It has nothing to do with where it happened. People are getting murdered every weekend in Y-town and no one complains why Kennedy isn't on THOSE scenes. It's a sad occurence. Point made.

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15whocares(4 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

$37,838 cut from a $637,838 budget. Kennedy says, " I don't think the commissioners totally understand the way this office works." Oh, I think we, and Traficanti, do understand Can't wait for the next time your name shows up on my ballot. And I have a good memory.

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16CassAnn(252 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

No Penguin he did NOT do his job.. and that is why everyone is upset with him.. You don't get the luxury of free weekends when you accept SALARY.

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17lwmacii(9 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

The Coroner made some missteps in this tragic incident. Hopefully, he will reconsider his policy and use the hindsight of this incident to avoid "absolute thinking"

BTW, once the bodies are taken to the morgue, they are held until he authorizes the release, meaning even the funeral home of choice is not able to assume responsibility for preparation.

Yet, the real tragedy was displayed during the TV interview revealing the Coroner's insensitivity when it was suggested he consider an apology to the families.

The lack of compassion is contrary to the expected bedside manner of a medical professional.

While he may have performed his job within legal mandates & requirements, I would hope in the future he would weigh the letter of the law against the spirit of the law.

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18jason83(21 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

QUOTE "That said, if your son or daughter doesn't come home one night and you can't get a hold of them - then they were probably involved in this crash. Not sure why he needs to ID the bodies right away."

So the families are tortured for two full days, wondering, hoping, that maybe, just maybe it wasn't their child. Put yourself in their shoes before making such a moronic statement. I think mr kennedy just put the nail in the coffin of the 1/2% sales tax.

Mahoning County voters, keep voting strictly for party affiliation, and this POS group of cronies is what you get. Our local elected officials are a complete joke from this clown kennedy, to hemp hagan and photo-op ryan.

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19UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Dr. Kennedy is exactly why everyone should vote NO on the 1/2% sales tax levy. It's time that the county workers understand they work for us the citizens of Mahoning County and if you are not gonna do your job for the budget we can afford then we will fire you and yours one way or another. NO on the levy sends that message loud and clear. The days opf Tax & Spend are over!

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20picturethis(18 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

How could the coroner even sleep? Has he no conscience or morals? I was taught that sometimes you help people out of the goodness of your heart. In this case, the impact of multiple deaths involved many, many families. "Budget cuts" or fancier to say "LACK OF MONEY" was the root of this evil decision. Yup, we'll all let it rest, and some day this will come back to bite that guy.

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21theword(342 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

the cuts have nothing to do with the 1/2 percent sales tax. The county is still getting that money.

THe cuts are because people arn't spending their money and the sales tax isn't bringing in money like it did in the past.


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22Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

"So the families are tortured for two full days, wondering, hoping, that maybe, just maybe it wasn't their child."

Anyone can go to the morgue to ID a body if you think it's someone you know.

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23Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

With this high profile accident I would have been at the crash scene if I had Dr. David M. Kennedy job . The sixty one grand that the taxpayers are paying him should have been reason enough . So many who hold public office are out of touch with the people who voted for them .

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24walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

This is tragic. I wouldn't wish this even on my enemy's family.

That being said, what were these young people doing out at this time of day. I'm sure they weren't going fishing. I would doubt that this is the first time they were out at this time of day.

As for the coroner, it is not necessary, under Ohio Revised Code, for his office to respond to this type of a situation. Law enforcement can ID the victims and notify the next-of-kin. Unfortuantely, the coroner put the county on notice that they would not repsond to traffic investigations. This is what happens when budgets get cut. Maybe the commissioners should have thought about this when doing the coroner's budget as, under Ohio Revised Code, the coroner's office is the highest office in county government. My question to the coroner, however, would be: At what point does a traffic crash become a crime scene where evidence must be collected and protected for possible use in a prosecution? I sure would not want everyday patrolmen or (yikes) sherrif's deputies calling the shots here.

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25NilesOhio(987 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

After learning more about the sequence of events, I still feel that the coroner was OK in not being at the scene. A car full of young adults going 80-90mph in a 25mph zone at 5am then slamming into a brick wall doesn't need a doctorate to determine cause of death.

However, the coroner could have arranged for someone to be at the morgue later that day for a brief time for the sake of the families of those affected. In that sense, he was terribly callous - budget cut or not.

And I do have to disagree with CassAnn - salary doesn't mean that an employer owns you 24/7. If that's specifically spelled out in his job description, then that's an entirely different matter.

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26jason83(21 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Lifes2Short "Anyone can go to the morgue to ID a body if you think it's someone you know."

That is incorrect. They had to wait until Monday am.

NilesOhio "And I do have to disagree with CassAnn - salary doesn't mean that an employer owns you 24/7."

You are correct, the employer (me) does not own the coroner 24/7. He is a part time employee on call 24/7. At 60k per year, part time, the coroner should have put off his Saturday morning round of golf and opened the morgue for the families. Totally ridiculous!.

There is no chance I will support giving this group of vagabonds, running this county, any more tax money. VOTE NO on 1/2% and VOTE THEM ALL OUT OF OFFICE. They could car less about the public service they were entrusted to perform. The only reason many of them are there is for the health care and retirement benefits.

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