The Riverside County Sheriffs Department Coroner’s Office is using a new piece of equipment to serve the living by speaking for the dead.
Technicians are using a new high-speed digital x-ray machine which top administrators say is helping families by more easily identifying the dead while determining the details of their passing.
“So we’re still working on her. It’s a fairly young woman of mixed race, who was wearing slacks,” said Deb Gray a Forensic Anthropologist. Gray adds, “She wasn’t dressed appropriately for a hike.”
Gray suspects natural causes in the woman’s death on a mountaintop in August near Lake Perris.
There were no signs of any trauma on the body.
This case is one of the 13-thousand death investigations the department conducts every year.
And a new Lodox high-speed x-ray machine is helping provide answers with many of them.
The Sheriffs department just purchased the $482,000 digital full-body x-ray scanner for the Coroner’s Perris office this summer.
It creates a six-foot high resolution picture in just 13 seconds while eliminating the need to move bodies to get complete x-ray pictures.
That saves time and money.
Gray said, “It’s light-speed ahead. Not only that, but the ease of use is great and the quality of images is fantastic.”
Coroner’s office workers now send most bodies into the Lodox for a complete six-foot scan. In the past they couldn’t do it because it simply took too much time and effort.
The new Lodox scans can pinpoint the exact location of a bullet which can help determine the cause, manner and mode of death.
It also can find things in bodies no one knew they’d find including artificial implants with traceable serial numbers, which can make identifying a body easier.
“So in a very complicated case with multiple gunshot wounds, sometimes if you don’t find the bullets when we’re doing the autopsy, we’ll send the body back to x-ray,” said Dr. Jennifer Park the county’s Chief Forensic Pathologist. “A few seconds later the body’s back,” Park added.
Riverside County is just one of a few agencies nationwide using the Lodox system for its Coroner’s Office.
Its scans also produce 10 times less harmful radiation, which is a real positive for employees like technician Ivy Zandoval.
“The reason why we do our jobs is to provide answers for the families,” said Park. “So I believe this is an excellent investment if we could do our job more efficiently to get more accurate answers to them faster than I think that’s great.”