County decides to buy coroner official vehicle |

County decides to buy coroner official vehicle

Frances Hohl

— It looks like the Routt County coroner will be getting a new truck, and he’ll get to take it home.
“He’s using his own vehicle right now, and they (the coroner’s office) have to haul cadavers from time to time,” County Commis-sioner Dan Ellison said.
While a new truck wasn’t planned for in the budget, the commissioners agreed to let Allen and county purchasing agent Tim Winter shop for a good deal on a 1/2 ton pickup with four-wheel drive and an extended cab. Including official lights and a camper shell on the bed, the truck’s price should be roughly $26,000.
During the truck discussion, Commissioner Ben Beall raised concerns about county employees using government cars for personal use. He questioned whether or not the coroner should drive the new county vehicle home at night.
Allen said there was a very good reason.
“This job is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he said.
Allen said he has never used county vehicles for personal use. But when he gets a call at home, it’s best to go directly to the scene.
Allen said he would lose time driving to the county shop on Radiator Road to pick up the vehicle.
Beall brought up the delicate suggestion that, in the coroner’s cases, the victims at the scene weren’t going anywhere.
“I respect your thought, about the person being dead,” Allen responded, but insisted there is still a need for urgency.
He described the scene of a recent accident where a young man died on a mountain highway.
“They closed down the highway. Until I get there, a trooper can’t open a roadway, can’t move a vehicle or a body,” he said.
Sheriff John Warner agreed, saying time is of the essence. He recalled two occasions when the coroner arrived a little late.
“Sometimes the family stands over the body messing up the crime scene,” Warner said. “When they see the coroner, people calm down and they step away.”
“He has a soothing effect” which helps bring closure to the scene, the sheriff said.
Commissioners Ellison and Nancy Stahoviak sided with Allen.
“It’s legitimate to keep your vehicle to keep your stuff in it to do your job,” Ellison said.
Stahoviak concurred: “I am comfortable with the vehicle being at your residence or with the person on call.”
However the commissioners agreed that when Allen is out of town or on county business, he needs to check out another county vehicle and leave the coroner’s truck with whoever is on call.
Meanwhile, the county is looking for a great deal on a new pickup truck.

To reach Frances Hohl call 871-4208 or e-mail

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