2017-06-02 / Community

County hires new medical examiner

Worked in Oregon before coming here


Young Young The Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved the appointment of Dr. Christopher Young as the county’s new medical examiner. Young will begin his duties July 2 with an annual salary of $320,000.

The 47-year-old doctor lives in Oregon, where he served in the state’s ME office as a forensic pathologist for almost 13 years, most recently as the deputy state medical examiner. He has also been a forensic pathologist for the Alaska State Medical Examiner’s Office.

A Southern California native, Young will relocate to Ventura County over the next several weeks.

“Dr. Young has the right combination of professional, managerial and personnel skills to run this critical office,” Ventura County chief executive Mike Powers said. “His goals of protecting the trust of the community, achieving industry accreditation and operating Ventura County as a model medical examiner’s institution closely align with those of our board and the county executive office.”

Young earned his medical degree at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. He earned his undergraduate degree at Pepperdine.

The role of the ME is to determine the cause, manner and circumstances of deaths that occur in Ventura County. The office works to identify people who have died—and to locate and notify next-of-kin in a timely and compassionate manner.

“A forensic pathologist gives those who have passed a voice,” Young said. “Our efforts will enable the deceased to tell their final story to family, friends, attorneys, doctors and law enforcement.”

Young replaces Ann Bucholtz, who was hired in 2015 but resigned just a year later. Bucholtz had taken over for Jon Smith, who was fired in 2015.

The Ventura County district attorney’s office spent nearly eight months investigating Smith after it came to light he had allowed an employee with no medical training to cut open bodies, remove organs and probe corpses for possible causes of death while Smith himself was away from the office.

An ambiguity in the law about what constitutes an autopsy prevented the county from filing any criminal charges as a result of the investigation, the DA said.

Investigators also learned that Smith was ordered by officials in Oregon and Louisiana to stop performing autopsies in those states. Smith did not have a license to practice medicine in Oregon or Louisiana, the district attorney’s report said.

What’s more, Smith “engaged in outside employment” while working for the county.

Again, the DA’s office said criminal violations could not be established.

The charges led the county to set up new policies to prevent similar abuses from happening in the future.

Acorn staff report

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