‘Speak for the dead’ for Your Next Job

CBS 21

Imagine having your work hours change every day while lawyers constantly try to prove you are wrong in court.

Being a coroner means facing criticism, even if you are good at what you do.

Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick is the star of a new show “The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead.”

Hetrick says he’s using the Discovery Channel program to show people the reality of what he does.

“I wanted to show that forensic science is a science and not opinion,” Hetrick said.

He’s also keen on the idea of how important the first 48 hours are after a body is found.

“There's some truth to that, a little bit of Hollywood, but there is a little bit of truth to it. The quicker you can give information, the more important,” Hetrick said.

Hetrick was seemingly born for his job seeing as his father was a funeral director.

Despite growing up seeing a lot of bodies, that doesn’t make the job any easier.

“You get emotionally involved sometimes with the cases,” Hetrick said.

Technology has also completely changed the profession in the last ten years.

“I can start zooming in on a product,” Hetrick said.

While technology helps, you’ll still need strong investigation skills to be a coroner, along with a medical background.

“When working with CSI guys, we understand that when we leave there it is gone because it is out of the chain of evidence,” Hetrick said.

And the working hours are just as unpredictable as the crimes.

“If you don't want a job that's 24/7, you don't want to do this,” Hetrick said.

But if it still appeals to you, deputy coroners can be part time, and get their start at Harrisburg University where Hetrick is a professor.

County coroners are elected positions, but no one stops learning in this profession, even after certifying more than 10,000 deaths.

“Every time we open up a human body, we are learning something different,” Hetrick said.

Hetrick says his show is now on 120 outlets , including places like South American and Europe.

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