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Who You Gonna Call?
That’s the nameAnd away go bodies down the drain

Verbal Autopsy with VIDAL HERRERA
Former Field Deputy Coroner-Investigator
For the L.A. County Chief Medical Examiner Coroner.
Founder of 1-800-Autopsy
Interview and photos by R.S. Rhine

G&C: Your motto is “Mortuis paresdium et vocem dare necessee est" (the deceased must be protected and given a voice). Why do the dead need a voice? And why must we respect the dead? It’s not like they are going to come after you (unless you are in a George Romero movie).

VH: The decedents need a voice or an objective opinion as to their cause of death. Sadly the medical community has changed in the past 50 years – they are more concerned with the bottom line – money – and, to a certain degree, just dismiss the patient as just another number. That really doesn't sit well with their families who they are looking for answers, closure and a final analysis of a person’s life. We respect the dead simply for the fact that they are fellow human beings.

G&C: What is an “autopsy” and can you buy one at the mall?VH: An autopsy is an invasive examination of a deceased, to determine a cause and manner of death. The primary purpose of an autopsy is to put to rest any questions the family may have regarding the cause of death, nature of an illness and reassurance that the appropriate health care was provided. In addition, health insurance claims and other death benefits may be expedited by the autopsy results. The autopsy will be performed by a pathologist, a medical doctor specially trained to recognize the anatomic and biochemical changes brought about by disease. Corpsepondant, Miss Hollie Steven', sharpens her knife skills before performing her first amateur autopsy.

And, no, you cannot buy one at the mall.G&C: Can you request an autopsy before you die? Is there a waiting list?VH: Yes you can request an autopsy before you die. Usually, this is requested through the family’s attending doctor, attorney and family members. No, there is no waiting list.G&C: What is the meaning of death to you?VH: Death to me is the finality of life and the possibility of extending other people’s lives (i.e. tissue harvesting, transplant) and it has been a viable commodity for me in terms of business.G&C: Do you think we should be able to live forever? Or, do you feel that death is a welcome inevitability? (Like taxes).VH: I think Rod Sterling answered that question in one of his episodes. I strongly believe that once a human being exceeds their life expectancies and their bodies deteriorate along with the pains and discomforts a person just gets tired and it is just their time.

G&C: Having examined thousands of accident victims, suicides, poisonings, hangings, beheadings, etc – What is the best way to die and the worst? (In your professional opinion?)

Continued in print issue. Click here to order now!!!!