Life Isn’t Like TV, Medical Examiner Tells Students

November 05, 2010 / by / 1 Comment

By Doug Carroll
Communications Staff

Representatives of the Maricopa County medical examiner’s office told visitors to Health Sciences and Nursing Day that they enjoy their jobs — but their work isn’t much like what you see on popular TV shows.

Medical examiner Dr. John Hu and investigator Keri Reeves told high school students assembled Friday in GCU’s North Gym that they are amused by the various “CSI” shows, which produce test results before a commercial break and wrap up cases neatly in an hour.

Medical examiner Dr. John Hu and investigator Keri Reeves.

“The shows are very glamorous, but real life is very different,” said Hu, who has been with the medical examiner’s office for more than 10 years.

Hu said one exception is “Dr. G, Medical Examiner,” a show on the Discovery Channel that tracks an actual medical examiner.

Cases are much more complex and involve more experts than TV likes to portray, Hu said. Often, results take weeks and months to determine — and sometimes there is no resolution at all.

The job of determining the cause and manner of death is an important one, he said.

“We represent the dead because they cannot represent themselves,” Hu said. “That makes us very important in the criminal-justice system. Every corpse tells a story.”

Hu said the medical examiner’s office sees at least one motor-vehicle fatality a day. He said deaths from prescription-drug abuse are on the rise. A typical day might involve performing autopsies in the morning and appearing in court in the afternoon.

Hu also noted that there are real human emotions involved.

“We comfort grieving families by bringing closure, and that’s as important as saving a person’s life,” he said.

Reeves, an investigator for six years, has witnessed gruesome crime and death scenes in her career but said she loves her job and wouldn’t want to do anything else. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s in forensic science.

“The most rewarding aspect is when I have a family call me and thank me for what I’ve done,” she said. “Sometimes people just need someone to talk to, so that they can say, ‘I loved that person.’”

An estimated 1,800 high school students visited campus for the annual event, which promotes careers in the health sciences and nursing.

Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or

About the Author
One Response
  1. Roy

    ^Roy Hilliard likes this

    Dec.06.2010 at 4:19 pm
Leave a Comment