By Kaitlyn Benacquisto
Hays County does not have it’s own medical examiner. However, neither do most counties in Texas – out of the 254 counties in the state, only about 14 have their own medical examiners.
In fact, the law only requires a medical examiner in county’s whose population is over one million. For example, Travis County has its own medical examiner. The last population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016 placed Travis County’s population at approximately 1.2 million.
“We use their medical examiner for most of our cases, and most of our more serious cases,” Hays County Criminal District Attorney Wes Mau said. He also listed Caldwell and Bexar counties as other options.
Potentially, Hays County could have its own medical examiner’s office if it were ever deemed necessary. The counties budget for autopsies depends on how many autopsies are needed for the year. According to Mau, the counties budget was $250,000 in 2016 and $340,000 in 2015.
“In order to have a small medical examiner’s office, it would cost about half a million dollars to fund that. That’s not even counting set-up costs. So for us to establish a medical examiner’s office given the number of autopsies we have done over the past year just wouldn’t make financial sense at this point” Mau said.
Given the number of autopsies typically required in Hays County, it is simply cheaper to transport the bodies to neighboring counties with the resources than to create our own office.
Have no fear, citizens of Hays County. The absence of a medical examiner does not mean bodies are not getting the proper examination that they need. It just means that they are getting that examination in a different county that has the necessary resources to do so.
Featured image by Kaitlyn Benacquisto.