Friday, October 05, 2012

Cirrus SR22 GTS G3 Turbo, Gandy Air LLC, N308PJ: Fatal accident occurred October 03, 2012 in Gary, Indiana

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA002 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 03, 2012 in Gary, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/16/2014
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N308PJ
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was flying an RNAV/GPS approach when the accident occurred. The air traffic controller did not provide approach clearance to the accident airplane until it was inside the final approach fix (FAF) and 1,000 feet above the FAF crossing altitude. The controller also issued a late turn to intercept the approach coarse, and he did not issue a descent clearance because his attention was directed to resolving a separation conflict involving two other aircraft. According to data recorded by the airplane’s primary flight display, the pilot disconnected the autopilot after receiving the approach clearance, and the airplane then began a rapid descent. About 40 seconds later, the airplane rolled left and tracked left of the approach course. The airplane’s ground proximity warning alert activated, and the airplane subsequently rapidly reversed roll and pitch directions consistent with an attempt by the pilot to correct the airplane’s hazardous flight path. The airplane continued to roll right and pitch to a nose-high attitude before rapidly transitioning to a nose-down attitude of more than 85 degrees. As the airplane descended below a 900-foot cloud layer, the pilot rolled the airplane to wings level and made a high g-force pullup until ground impact. Given the pilot’s high workload due to deficient approach control services and possible distraction while operating in instrument meteorological conditions and the subsequent loss of airplane control, it is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation.
Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. Toxicology testing indicated the pilot used cocaine, hydrocodone, and marijuana at some point in the recent past. However, the use of the cocaine and hydrocodone likely did not affect the pilot’s performance at the time of the accident, and the effect of the marijuana use could not be determined from the available evidence.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s loss of control during an instrument approach due to spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident were deficient approach control services and the pilot's loss of positional awareness.


On October 3, 2012, at 1116 central daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N308PJ, operated by a commercial pilot, collided with terrain while flying an instrument approach at the Gary/Chicago International Airport (GYY), Gary, Indiana. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed from ground impact and postimpact fire. The flight was being operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed during the instrument approach portion of the flight and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Smyrna Airport (MQY), Smyrna, Tennessee, at 0925.

According to voice recordings provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot first contacted approach control about 35 miles southeast of GYY while in a descent to 4,000 feet mean sea level (msl). After receiving vectors and a further descent to 3,000 feet msl, N308PJ was cleared for the RNAV/GPS Y approach to runway 30 at GYY.

At the point of the first approach clearance by air traffic control (ATC), N380PJ was inside the final approach fix (FAF) and 1000 feet above the recommended FAF altitude. After no response was received from the pilot, ATC repeated the approach clearance to N308PJ. The pilot acknowledged this approach clearance, as well as a frequency change to the tower. No further radio transmissions were recorded on either approach or tower control frequencies.

After the pilot confirmed the approach clearance, radar returns indicated N308PJ in a descent and close to on course laterally. About 40 seconds after starting the descent, radar returns indicated N308PJ initiated a left, descending turn away from course centerline. The last recorded radar return indicated an altitude of 1,700 feet msl, about one mile southeast of runway 30 at GYY, almost overhead of the accident site.


The pilot, age 48, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, and instrument ratings. On May 18, 2012, the pilot was issued a FAA Class 2 medical certificate, which required corrective lenses be worn. At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported having 1,100 hours of total flight experience, with 50 hours in the last six months. The pilot reported 650 hours of flight experience in the make and model of the accident airplane on his application for aircraft insurance, dated December 5, 2011.

A certified flight instructor (CFI), who flew training flights with the accident pilot, stated that the pilot often struggled to maintain instrument flying proficiency due to an active lifestyle. He stated that the accident pilot was challenged with accomplishing routine instrument flying tasks, such as changing a radio control frequency while conducting an instrument approach.


The accident airplane, a 2007 Cirrus SR-22, was registered to Gandy Air LLC. A standard airworthiness certificate was issued for the airplane on August 8, 2007. The airplane was equipped with a Continental IO-550-N46B engine. The last annual inspection was performed on the airplane on September 17, 2012, with a total aircraft time of 566.4 hours.


The weather observation station at GYY reported the following conditions at 1140: wind variable at 6 knots, visibility 5 miles, ceiling 900 feet overcast, temperature 17 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 13 degrees C, and altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury.


A circuit card from the airplane's primary flight display (PFD) and an autopilot unit were recovered from the accident airplane and forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board's Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for evaluation. The autopilot unit was destroyed by fire and flight data was not recovered. Two flash memory devices were removed from the damaged PFD and read using a memory chip reading device.

The following summary utilized data from the PFD: The airplane departed MQY and climbed to a final cruise altitude of 10,000 feet msl. The GPS steering autopilot mode was used for lateral navigation during the cruise portion of the flight. At 1053 the airplane began a descent, leveling briefly at 8,000 feet msl, 4,000 feet msl, and 3000 feet msl. At 4,000 feet msl, the GPS steering mode deactivated and heading hold mode activated. At 1109, the next waypoint parameter switched from "KGYY" to "WASTU", which was the FAF. Autopilot vertical speed mode was used to descend from 4,000 feet msl to 3,000 feet msl.

The autopilot altitude hold mode was used to maintain 3,000 feet msl. At 1114:07, the autopilot switched from heading hold to approach mode. At 1114:32, the next waypoint parameter switched from "WASTU" to "RONOY", an intermediate stepdown fix on final (ATC transmitted the second approach clearance to N308PJ at 1115:09).

At 1115:25, inside the FAF and still at 3,000 feet msl, the autopilot disconnected. During two periods immediately prior to the disengagement of the autopilot a "TRIMMING" indication was sent by the autopilot. This indication is present when the autopilot has run the pitch trim for a period in excess of four seconds, which is consistent with pushing or pulling on the yoke while the autopilot is still connected.

After the autopilot disconnected, the airplane began a descent that reached 5,000 feet per minute. During this descent, the airplane rolled 37 degrees left and pitched down to 14 degrees nose low. At 1115:50, the airplane reversed both roll and pitch directions, commencing a roll to the right and a pitch up.

The altitude and vertical speed profile at which the roll and pitch reversed corresponded to the activation criteria for the enhanced ground proximity warning system (GPWS), which triggers aural voice and visual annunciator warnings. Initially, the voice alert "Sink Rate" is triggered and a yellow caution alert annunciator lamp illuminates. The pilot guide for the enhanced GPWS installed in the accident airplane is located in the NTSB public docket.

After reversing pitch and roll direction, the airplane continued rolling right and pitched up to a 15-degree nose up attitude. The airplane continued rolling right and transitioned to a nose down pitch of more than 85 degrees nose low and 170 degrees of right roll. As the airplane descended below 900 feet above ground level, a rapid roll to wings level and pitch up occurred. Centrifugal forces during the pitch up were recorded in excess of 4.5 Gs. The last data record was 48 degrees nose down, with a descent rate of about 7,000 feet per minute.


The accident site was located in a wooded area about one mile from the approach end centerline of runway 30 at GYY. The wreckage debris was scattered from the initial impact crater outward on a 164-degree heading. The debris field extended about 100 feet from the impact crater and was about 65 feet wide at its widest point. To the north of the impact crater, trees displayed freshly broken and cut tree limbs. The angle at which the broken and cut tree limbs made with respect to each other and the impact crater was measured as a 52-degree descent.

The airplane was fragmented and mostly consumed by fire. The aileron control cable was fractured on both sides of the console aileron actuation pulley and the right hand aileron actuation pulley. All three turnbuckles were present with safety clips installed. Elevator and rudder control cable continuity was confirmed.

The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) parachute was located about 60 feet from the impact crater. The parachute remained partially packed in the deployment bag (D-bag) and exhibited thermal damage. The rocket motor was hanging in some small trees, still attached to the pickup collar, lanyards, and incremental bridle. The motor was determined to be expended. The incremental bridle remained in the sheath and had not "unzipped."

The D-bag straps were attached to the incremental bridle. The ends of the D-bag straps exhibited thermal damage where they separated from the bag. A portion of the suspension lines were hanging in the tree branches and exhibited thermal damage at both ends. The lines were hanging in a straight line between the parachute and the impact crater. Portions of thermally damaged risers were also present in the trees between the impact crater and the parachute.

The flight station bulkhead was located about 28 feet forward of the impact crater. The launch tube, base, and igniter assembly were present. Approximately two feet of the activation cable extended from the igniter assembly. The activation handle was out of the handle holder and approximately 93 inches of activation cable remained attached to the activation handle. The plastic sheath for the activation cable was not present, consistent with the thermal damage to the surrounding components. The safety pin for the activation handle was not observed.

The aluminum cross beam that bolts across the opening to the CAPS enclosure was bowed forward. The reefing line cutters were not observed. The CAPS enclosure cover was located 55 feet from the impact crater and exhibited impact and fire damage. Evidence at the accident site was consistent CAPS deployment due to ground impact forces.

The engine was examined off the accident site. A borescope inspection was conducted on all six engine cylinders. None of the cylinders, cylinder barrels, pistons, or valves displayed any sign of operational distress. The induction system, exhaust system, magnetos, oil sump, and fuel pump were examined, with no pre-impact anomalies noted. The ignition system was destroyed during the accident sequence and ensuring fire.

Examination of the airframe, engine and propeller did not reveal any anomalies associated with a pre-impact failure or malfunction.


On October 5, 2012, an autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Lake County Coroner. The cause of death was blunt force injuries. Toxicology testing of vitreous as part of the autopsy indicated past use of cocaine and hydrocodone. The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot, which was limited by the lack of available blood or urine. No ethanol was detected in the muscle or liver. Trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana) was found in lung and its metabolite tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid was detected in the lung and liver.


The air traffic controller stated that while vectoring N308PJ toward the final approach at GYY, he observed two aircraft east of GYY that were "becoming a conflict". A conflict alert (CA) alarm sounded and was displayed on his radar screen, which drew his attention away from N308PJ. After resolving the conflict, the controller stated that he was still a little flustered as he returned to provide approach service to N308PJ. He stated that if not for the loss of separation conflict, he felt he would have given better approach services to N308PJ.

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA002
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 03, 2012 in Gary, IN
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N308PJ
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 3, 2012, at 1120 central daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N308PJ, operated by a commercial pilot collided with terrain while flying an instrument approach at the Gary/Chicago International Airport (KGYY), Gary, Indiana. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage from impact and postimpact fire. The flight was being operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Smyrna Airport (KMQY), Smyrna, Tennessee, at 0925.

The pilot requested and was cleared for the RNAV(GPS)Y RWY 30 instrument approach into KGYY. The pilot was issued vectors for the approach and was subsequently cleared for the approach by the Chicago TRACON. The pilot was subsequently issued a frequency change and instructed to contact the KGYY air traffic control tower. The pilot did not check in on the tower frequency. The airplane impacted trees and the terrain approximately 1 mile southeast of KGYY.

Weather conditions recorded at KGYY at 1140 were: wind variable at 6 knots, visibility 5 miles, ceiling 900 feet overcast, temperature 17 degrees Celsius, dew point 13 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury. 

Patsy John Crisafi 

Patsy John Crisafi, 48, of St. Augustine, Fla., formerly of Connellsville, died Wednesday Oct. 3, 2012 in Lake County, Ind. He was born Jan. 11, 1964 in Allegheny County, Pa., a son of the late Patsy and Catherine "Kitty" Valvassori Crisafi. Patsy was a loving son, brother, uncle and friend.

Patsy was successful businessman and entrepreneur. Following a successful 18-year career with CSX Transportation, which included positions in Connellsville, Pa., Atlanta, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fla., he left to pursue other business interests in the railroad industry. Patsy served as executive vice president of Utilco Co., in Tifton, Ga. He was the co-founder, principal and executive vice president of Roadway Worker Training, Inc. (RWT), a successful railroad industry consulting, training and support company.

Among his other business interests were; Railroad Protective Services, Inc. (RPS), founder and president, C&C RWT, LLC, co-founder and partner, Crisafi-Maloy Development, Inc., Crisafi Services, Inc., National Pike Properties, LLC, VHMC, LLC and Gandy Air, LLC. Patsy was a commercially rated pilot. His special railroad expertise was railroad operating rules, safety and technical training and the development and implementation of railroad safety policies.

Patsy was a long-time member of St. Rita"s Roman Catholic Church, Elks Lodge, the NRC and AREMA. Patsy was a long-term sponsor and active supporter of Big Brothers and Sisters of St. Augustine, Fla. He was a member of the hunting group, Sugar Bottom in Montgomery, Ala., and a willing and generous contributor to many veterans and children"s causes. Patsy loved and lived for his family and legions of friends. Among his many joys were his dogs, airplanes, motorcycles, hunting, cars, flying and off shore fishing, diving, boating, cooking, entertaining and his passion for his work. Patsy graduated from Connellsville High School in 1981.

He is survived, loved and sadly missed by his sister, Lisa Crisafi Nudo and her husband Ken, and nephew, Devin Nudo, all of Connellsville, Pa.; his fiancŽe, Jackie Carter of St. Augustine, Fla.; and her son, Adam of Millwood, Ga.

Friends will be received from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday and 2-4;7-9 p.m. Thursday in the Brooks Funeral Home, Inc., 111 E. Green St., Connellsville, Pa., where a Blessing Service will be held Friday at 9:30 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Rita"s R.C. Church, Connellsville. with the Rev. Robert Lubic as celebrant. Interment will follow in St. Rita"s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions be made to St. Rita"s Cemetery Care Fund, the ASPCA, Humane Society or the Big Brothers of America in memory of Patsy John Crisafi.

To sign the guest registry, please visit



45, of St. Johns, FL, was delivered to God in Heaven along with his dear friend, Patsy Crisafi, on October 3, 2012. Vinnie was a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and a die-hard Steeler fan! He was a graduate of Chartiers Valley High School and Duquesne University. He obtained a Masters degree in business at Jacksonville University. He was an appointed member of the NRC Board of Directors. Vinnie was a very successful entrepreneur and co-owner of All Rail Road Service of Jacksonville, FL. He was the all-time leading tackler (440) and a Hall of Fame member of the Duquesne Dukes football program. Larger than any personal accomplishments was Vinnie's HEART and the LOVE and GENEROSITY he gave to ALL. Our beloved Vinnie is survived by his wife, April; and two sons, Victor and Anthony; mother and father, Mary and John Vaccarello; brothers, John and Eric and their families; mother and father-in-law, Carol and Gene Piscopo; brother and sister-in-law and their families; dear friend and business partner, Mike Heridia; many loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. 

Mass will be held on October 20, 2012 at Saint Simon & Jude Church, 1551 Greentree Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15220 at 11:00 a.m. Following church services, all friends and family are invited to the "Celebration of Vinnie's Life" to be held at Hilton Garden Inn - Southpointe, 1000 Corporate Drive, Canonsburg, PA 15317 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

 In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted at San Juan Del Rio's "Building Fund", 1718 State Route 13, Saint Johns, FL 32259.

Photo Courtesy of Roadway Worker Training Inc. 
Plane piloted by Crisafi (right) crashed Oct. 3, killing him and construction business associate Vaccarello in Gary, Ind.

Two rail construction Execs die in private plane crash 

 (Indiana) -- Two veteran rail construction executives based in Florida died Oct. 3 when the private plane they jointly owned and was being piloted by one of them crashed near the Gary, Ind., airport. Killed were Patsy J. "PJ" Crisafi, 45, co-founder and executive vice president of Roadway Worker Training Inc., St. Augustine, Fla., and Vincent “Vinnie” Vaccarello, 48, co-founder and co-president of All Railroad Services Corp., also based there. Crisafi was believed to have been the pilot. . According to Baker, Crisafi’s funeral is set for Oct. 12 in Connellsville, Pa. Services for Vaccarello are set for Oct. 13 in St. Johns, Fla. and a reception will be in Jacksonville. 

 The cause of the crash was under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, but witnesses reported either a small explosion or or some sort of engine failure on the plane while it was still in the air,” says Chuck Baker, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Rail Construction and Maintenance Association, of which both were current board members.

The group’s members include rail and transit construction contractors, engineers and suppliers, says its website.

Crisafi’s firm specializes in railroad consulting, employee training and track safety and support; Vaccarello’s serves short line, transit, and Class 1 railroads, providing pole line removal, tree trimming, maintenance of vegetation at railroad crossings and numerous other services, according to the firms’ websites.

Crisafi was an 18-year management veteran of CSX Transportation, while Vaccarello is a former vice president of operations for Balfour Beatty Rail. Vaccarello's current firm has about 135 employees in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to the firm.

“Vinnie and Patsy were both well-known and respected in the industry,” says John August, executive vice president of RailWorks Corp., New York City. He says the executives, who often worked together and co-owned the Cirrus SR-22 aircraft, were en route to the Chicago area for a meeting with Canadian National Railroad engineering officials.

Both of the firms had been subcontractors to RailWorks on past projects, says August.

 According to Baker, Crisafi’s funeral is set for Oct. 12 in Connellsville, Pa. Services for Vaccarello are set for Oct. 13 in St. Johns, Fla. and a reception will be in Jacksonville.
 The Lake County Coroner has identified the plane crash victims as Vincent Vaccarello and Patsy Crisafi, both of St. Augustine, according to a news release.   

The Associated Press -

The two men killed when a small airplane crashed into a wooded area about a mile short of Gary-Chicago International Airport in northwestern Indiana have been identified as being from St. Augustine, Fla.

Lake County coroner Merrilee Frey (fry) said in a news release she used dental records to identify the remains of Vincent Vaccarello and Patsy Crisafi. She didn't release any further information about the men.   A telephone message seeking further information was left Friday night by The Associated Press.
Aviation officials haven't yet released any information about what caused the crash. The single-engine plane was registered to Gandy AIR LLC in St. Augustine, Fla., according to the FAA. The plane last taken off from Smyrna, Tenn.
Previous version:
A St. Johns County businessman could be one of two men killed after a private plane his company owned crashed in Gary, Ind., on Wednesday.

The plane was registered to Gandy Air LLC of St. Augustine, but as of Thursday officials had not released the names of the two victims, pending notification of families.

Managing member of Gandy Air is Patsy J. Crisafi, according to business records. The company has an address on Ryan Road.

The Cirrus SR22 single-engine plane crashed into the woods behind West Gary Lighthouse Charter School around 11:18 a.m. on Wednesday and burst into flames.

The victims had not been identified as of Thursday, said Jessica Metros, administrative officer for the Lake County Coroner’s Office.

Ed Wuellner, executive director at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Johns County, confirmed that Crisafi has had a hangar at the airport since 2008, but he said he did not know Crisafi personally.

Crisafi is listed as the executive vice president for Roadway Worker Training of Jacksonville, president of Crisafi Services and director of Railroad Protective Services, according to business records.

Stephen Ramsey, who is listed as a business associate, declined to comment and would not confirm whether Crisafi was on the plane. Another person listed on the business records declined to comment.

The Cirrus SR22 left the Northeast Florida Regional Airport around 3 p.m. on Tuesday and was scheduled to arrive in Smyrna, Tenn., around 5:30 p.m., according to flight records.

Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Director John Black said he didn’t know who owned the plane or who might have been onboard, according to the Associated Press. He said the plane arrived at the airport Tuesday night and departed Wednesday morning.

The plane was enroute from Smyrna to the Gary/Chicago International Airport when it crashed, according to the Gary Police Department.

Investigators have said the plane did not send a distress signal before crashing, according to First Coast News.

Lake County Coroner’s Office officials removed the bodies of two men from the wreckage around 5:35 p.m. Wednesday.

Delores Hinton, who lives nearby and saw the crash, said the plane “exploded in the air” over her house, according to the Associated Press. “I said, ‘What was that?’ The next thing I know, it was down,” she said.

Gary Police Department spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said there was not an update to the investigation as of Thursday evening.

Cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

CROWN POINT | Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey said an examination by an expert in dental matching this afternoon could provide a positive identification on the two men killed in a plane crash in Gary Wednesday morning.

The move comes after the coroner's office was contacted by individuals believing the victims are their loved ones, Frey said.

"They believe their loved ones were on the plane and provided us with dental records," Frey said Friday afternoon.

Frey declined to provide further details about the families and their hometowns.

Frey said a forensic odontologist will be conducting the examination this afternoon, comparing dental records provided by loved ones believing the men are their family members. Frey and Chief Deputy Coroner David Pastrick will attend the examination, she said.

"We've worked very diligently on this case," Frey said. "I, myself, as coroner was out at the scene throughout the day Wednesday and returned yesterday morning."

Frey said she and her team of forensic pathologists worked at the scene until 3 p.m. Thursday gathering evidence to assist in positively identifying the victims.

If the dental records do not provide the information needed to positively identify the men, Frey said, her office may consider using DNA testing.

The men were traveling in a Cirrus SR22, registered to Gandry Air LLC of Florida, and were scheduled to arrive at the Gary/Chicago International Airport at 11:19 a.m. when they crashed in a wooded area near 7th Avenue and Clark Road.

No one else was injured in the crash.

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Tests Needed To ID Plane Crash Victims

GARY, Ind. (AP) - A coroner said it might be weeks before it positively identifies the two people killed when a small plane traveling from Smyrna crashed into a wooded area about a mile short of Gary/Chicago International Airport in northwestern Indiana.

Lake County coroner Merrilee Frey said investigators from her office spent hours at the scene soon after Wednesday's crash and returned the next day to complete their recovery work.

Frey told WLPR-FM that medical examiners will use dental records and DNA tests to confirm identities of the victims.

Aviation officials haven't yet released any information about what caused the crash. The single-engine plane was registered to a St. Augustine, Florida, group and had last taken off from Smyrna, Tennessee.

  Regis#: 308PJ        Make/Model: SR22      Description: SR-22
  Date: 10/03/2012     Time: 1619

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

  City: GARY   State: IN   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   2
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   2     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SOUTH BEND, IN  (GL17)                Entry date: 10/04/2012 # 

October 01, 2012 5:45 pm • By Susan Brown

 CROWN POINT | Newly named Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey has wasted no time since her September 15 swearing-in, from revamping office protocol to replacing defective equipment to revising the budget methodology, she said Monday.

Frey and her top staff -- Chief Deputy David Pastrick and Administrative Officer Jessica Metros -- announced the host of changes, some immediate and some in the making, such as establishing closer ties with law enforcement to reduce costs.

Ten days in office, Frey has ordered the inventory of equipment and the immediate replacement of defective equipment, including autopsy carts, as identified by longtime staff.

In the last two weeks, the evidence room has been nearly emptied of stored personal belongings, now returned to families as a means of closure, she said.

Having lost two death investigators and a photographer to cutbacks, she found services to have been eroded, she said.

The remaining staff is limited and will be cross-trained to a defined standard of professionalism, she said.

Metros said she and Pastrick do not hold new positions, as rumored. Rather, they replace two individuals who were dismissed, she said.

A forensic nurse and working on her state certification as a coroner, Frey said a safe working environment will be provided to all employees. Employees are exposed to disease in both the transporting of the deceased and in the conducting of the autopsies, she said.

To minimize the cost of the new protocols, the office is partnering with the Lake County Health Department.

Frey also anticipates working closely with Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter and Sheriff John Buncich, both to work as a law enforcement team and to defray costs to taxpayers.

She has requested an audit by the State Board of Accounts to learn the situation of the office's accounts, she said.

Frey will rely on grants to help underwrite education and prevention services in such areas as SIDS and suicide, she said.

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