By Jeff Rebitski
Erin Evie, who is so far the only challenger for the office of coroner in Fremont County for the coming election, spoke to the Ranger about her purpose and passion for the office.
With experience in the office of the coroner that dates back to 2001, Erin Ivie knows Fremont County, its people and its culture within the context of the coroners office, but with a connection to the community where she was born and raised, Erin Ivie has, what appears to be a sincere connection to her friends and family as well. Sometimes the job and her private life intersect and although difficult, professionalism is maintained until it is time to be compassionate and caring. Then, the gloves come off and she cares for the families that are hurting and often confused until they are ready to take their first steps without their loved one.
The sole purpose of the coroner may seem simple based on what we see on television. On T.V. they pick up the body, determine that it is dead and do an autopsy to find out why.
Very few will recall the early 80’s T.V. show that featured a main character by the name of “Quincy.” who was the main character of the show. Now, with so many references to crime scenes and the investigators, we rarely think about the person behind the process that establishes identity, cause of death and manner of death if possible without judgment and without any determination of guilt or innocence and relays that information efficiently and effectively to the investigating agency for use in their investigation.
Erin has proudly served the Fremont County community as part of the Coroner’s Office since 2001, starting as an unpaid volunteer and working her way through various positions including Deputy, Lander Supervisor, and Operations Officer. In 2015 she was appointed as Chief Deputy Coroner/Administrative Officer, a role she has dutifully filled, ensuring fiscal responsibility, accountability, and public transparency. Erin has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Crime Scene Investigations/Forensic Science. She is nationally certified as a Diplomate by the American Board of Medico-legal Death Investigators, a General Section member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, recognized as a member of the International Association for Identification, the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts, the Society of Medico-legal Death Investigators, and is a member of the International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners. Erin is also recognized by the Wyoming Peace Officers Standards and Training as a General Lecturer and teaches regularly at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy as well as locally in our Middle Schools, High Schools, and at CWC for the Forensic Science students.
Erin has a connection with the community that she shared as she spoke. She stated “I work for the deceased, it is so important to be respectful and conscious of the cultural differences in the region between the Native Peoples and the religious denominations that live and unfortunately pass away here.” Our job here is to care for the deceased until the investigation is complete and the family can prepare for the interment or any other ceremonious tradition. Often in cases of unattended deaths, there is, for the lack of a better term, a criminal investigation done by any number of agencies based on where the body is found even though it may turn out to be an accidental death. “However, if there is to be an autopsy to determine cause or manner of death, Wyoming has no licensed medical examiner that can officially do the autopsy and for that reason, all autopsies are done in Loveland Colorado under a contract we have with a licensed medical examiner.”
For over 15 years Fremont County has been working towards having a local Forensic Pathologist to conduct autopsies and provide case assistance. This was a goal of former Coroners’ McAuslan and Stratmoen as cases requiring an autopsy had to be transported by the coroner’s office to Colorado for this service. Once elected, Erin intends to work with a local Board Certified Forensic Pathologist, who retired to Lander. His work is highly regarded by his peers and his expertise is unparalleled. By providing this much needed service in Fremont County, Erin can keep coroner costs down, resources local, and add longevity to existing assets like county vehicles. The addition of this local asset means that families can be better informed regarding the death of their loved ones and in a more timely manner.
She believes that the health and wellbeing of the people is of the utmost importance and does what she can to help outside of the Coroners office. Erin has participated in multiple local prevention efforts including the Fremont County Suicide Prevention Task Force, speaking at Injury Prevention Services events, participating in Community Health Fairs, and advising on public health issues.
Erin believes that accreditation is imperative to keeping up with changing forensic techniques including forensic investigations, autopsy, and toxicology services to name a few. She wants to see a move towards that goal so there can be a higher standard of service to the deceased, the families and the agencies that are doing the investigation.
The people of Fremont County deserve to know they are receiving quality investigations and the most compassionate care possible.