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Health News Florida

Monroe Medical Examiner Accused Of Transporting Body In The Back Of A Pickup Truck Loses His Job

Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Beaver makes his case Wednesday in front of the state Medical Examiners Commission.
Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Beaver makes his case Wednesday in front of the state Medical Examiners Commission.

Monroe Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Beaver will be out of a job at the end of June. The state Medical Examiners Commission Wednesday unanimously voted against sending his name to Gov. Rick Scott for re-appointment.

The move came after a chorus of complaints against Beaver from local agencies, including the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and the county itself, which pays for the medical examiner's services but does not choose who holds the office.

Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay described a contentious relationship with Beaver, with heated disagreements about how to recover bodies from a sailboat sunk in deep water and from the accident that killed three construction workers in a Key Largo sewer trench earlier this year.

"The sitting sheriff and the sitting medical examiner have not spoken one word for years," Ramsay said. "I believe we deserve better. I believe this relationship is irreparable."

Assistant County Attorney Cynthia Hall relayed complaints from the county's social services department, which handles burials and cremations for the indigent. The county pays $686,000 a year for the medical examiner's office.

In 2015, the county launched an audit after members of the public reported seeing a body transported in an open-bed pickup truck — and that the truck had gone through a drive-through restaurant with a body.

Beaver said he only transported one body a short distance that way one time, because the transport from Key West would have taken more than three hours to reach the location. He said it was "absolutely 100 percent not true" that he had gone through a drive-through restaurant with a body in the truck.

Hall said Beaver and his staff would not provide photos for family members of the indigent to identify bodies and would not allow them to come to the medical examiner's office so the bodies had to be transported to funeral homes.

"Obviously, that caused additional expense for the funeral homes. It also caused distress for the family members of the indigent," Hall said.

Beaver said he has never denied access to anyone.

"It's gossip and it's rumors and it's innuendo, and they're construing it as fact," he said. The Keys, he said "is a very small community. It's a very closed community."

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