Mahoning Co. says search for new medical examiner will take a while

Late Mahoning County Deputy Coroner Dr. Joseph Ohr passed away over the weekend

coroner test tubes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The process of searching for someone to succeed Dr. Joseph Ohr as medical examiner in Mahoning County will begin right away, said County Coroner David Kennedy.

Ohr had been Mahoning County’s deputy coroner for eight years. He passed away over the weekend after being recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“He was a great forensic pathologist and he was an even better person,” Kennedy said.

He said finding a certified forensic pathologist for the job could take months and doesn’t expect to have the position filled until this time next year.

“These guys do five years of general pathology residency and then they do two additional years of forensics.”

Kennedy admitted it took almost a year to find Ohr prior to hiring him in 2009.

“You need to find the right person…a lot of times, the forensic pathologists, they like to work with other forensic pathologists,” Kennedy said. “We don’t have enough work for two forensic pathologists, but we have plenty of work for one.”

Kennedy said during Ohr’s absence the last month, the county had to send about ten bodies to Cleveland for autopsies at a cost of almost $1,300 each.

In the meantime, arrangements are being made with Cuyahoga County pathologists to review Ohr’s records in case the courts need his testimony in local pending murder cases. He would have been called as a witness to discuss causes of death.

Kennedy said that was another of Ohr’s duties as his chief deputy.

“Which will probably not be so good for the next person ‘cuz the expectations will be so high.”

In addition to overseeing roughly 150 autopsies performed locally each year, Ohr was actively involved in fighting the heroin problem in the area.

“It was just the passion and the commitment that Dr. Ohr had when it comes to the opioid epidemic and what we’re doing to deal with it,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

Ohr had joined a new Opioid Overdose Task Force that formed in January to find and prosecute people who were supplying heroin to victims.