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Over My Dead Body

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Imagine you're watching an autopsy, studying the stomach or the kidneys. Then you glance at the cadaver's face - and realize it's someone you knew. That's what almost happened to a group of Michigan high school students last April when their class toured the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office. Since the incident, the coroner has canceled all public school tours for the first time in nearly a decade.

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"I told the students that if any of them knew this girl, they should not go back there," Bob Gerds, head of the autopsy department, told the Detroit News.

Students enrolled in Waterford Kettering High School's crime scene investigation class examined the cadaver of a 14-year-old girl from the same district. While none of the students knew the middle school girl, who had committed suicide, one was acquainted with her brother.

Click to see our human bodies gallery.

A student later told the parents of the deceased girl about the tour. Angry their daughter had been publicly examined, the parents contacted Oakland County officials who decided to put a stop to all student tours. When Gerds spoke to the girl's mother at the time, he recalls her being "distraught" over the situation.

Mike Zehnder, the county's director of public services, also admits the tour was "a poor decision." However, the medical examiner is not legally required to inform the girl's guardians or keep the examination confidential.

The teacher did speak to her class about the subject of the autopsy prior to the tour, according to a Waterford School District spokeswoman. But former PTA president Robin McGregor says the autopsy just hit too close to home. "From a parent's perspective, if that was my child, I'd be upset."

Do you think the students should have been allowed to observe this autopsy?


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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Annette/dananner December 9, 2008, 5:28 PM

I think they should have been able to view the autopsy, but for a public viewing the hospital should have gotten a written waiver from the family first.

Elisa December 9, 2008, 5:35 PM

Absolutely not.

Anonymous December 9, 2008, 8:45 PM

Not without parental permission.

Dan December 10, 2008, 2:19 PM

Why shouldn’t high school kids be allowed to enjoy a girl of their peers, lifeless and naked, on a slab having her internal organs ripped out? I highly doubt that our sense of humanity could sink any lower than this, if that is even a consideration.

Weekends Off December 15, 2008, 3:19 PM

Um, DAN, can you not read? They were students taking a crime scene investigation class they were not out on a fun field trip.

gustav March 24, 2009, 2:38 PM

I think a legal release should be required for performing a public autopsy .. of course no-one would ever want to sign it :)

Pharmf666 April 6, 2011, 10:53 AM

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