Louisville Medicine Volume 65, Issue 11 - Page 36

MEMBERS (continued from page 33) pursue a different career than initially expected. She stepped away from her interest in rehabilitation and chose pathology instead. She and her husband were accepted to UofL’s residency program and got to work. “While it wasn’t my first choice, I always really enjoyed patholo- gy,” she said. “I had trouble dealing with the dying patient in other specialties but, with pathology, I didn’t put them there. Nothing that I did or didn’t do allowed them to arrive at that stainless-steel table.” In fact, Dr. Weakley-Jones explained, her job and findings could only yield definitive results. “With my work, I can tell you why a person is dead. I can tell if their medicine worked. I can tell a family that a baby’s death maybe wasn’t their fault. I can come up with an answer or help find the guy who committed a crime. There are a lot of positives that come from a medical examiner’s work.” If Dr. Weakley-Jones describes each autopsy as a new book to read, her career has made her an avid reader. From 1981 to when she retired as Assistant Chief Medical Examiner in 2010, hundreds of cases came across her table each year. Every type of fatality you could imagine, and some you likely couldn’t. She also helped manage high profile cases, including the 27 people who died in the Carrollton bus crash, and the eight victims of the Standard Gravure shooting. “You have to separate yourself from the people they were. The memorable ones will come back to you in nightmares,” she said gravely. The Carrollton crash was one unfortunately memorable 34 LOUISVILLE MEDICINE incident. For those unfamiliar, a youth group’s bus traveling home from King’s Island was hit by a drunk driver. Twenty-four teens and three adults lost their lives. “You have to put yourself in that situation. It’s your job to picture it, and that’s tough. As you’re doing the case, it isn’t too bad. Two days later, when you open the newspaper and see what all these kids looked like, that breaks your heart. That makes them human.” Although her work is often morbid by definition, Dr. Weak- ley-Jones is hardly doom and gloom herself. To brighten the days and stay connected to her early interest in animals, she long ago became a trainer and handler of search and recovery dogs. Enter her coroner’s office these days and you may meet the newest edition to the team, a dark brown and extremely friendly Belgian Malinois named Lottie. “I’ve had cadaver dogs for 20 something years. I wrote a state grant and received federal funds to get the first. The grant wasn’t too big, just enough for food and trips to the vet. It made sense as I was going to get called to the scene of anything the dog finds anyway,” she said. When she began instructing recovery dogs, the training was sole- ly on land. This quickly changed as dogs are capable of discovering drowned victims too. Today, a large portion of Dr. Weakley-Jones’ training takes place in water as well. “Kentucky has a tremendous amount of water, so the need was great for dogs who have that