Westmoreland County cuts ties with well-known forensic pathologist

WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. — There will soon be a new pathologist in Westmoreland County in what coroner Tim Carson said was a decision he did not take lightly, cutting ties with Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Wecht said this wasn’t his decision, telling Channel 11 he was blindsided when the coroner paid him a visit two weeks ago.

”I was quite surprised. I’ve been doing autopsies with Westmoreland County coroners dating back to 1967, 68. That’s 55 years,” said Wecht.

”I was just shocked. I asked him, ‘What is wrong? Did anything happen?’ No, they couldn’t give me one example,” said Wecht.

With Carson’s recommendation, commissioners voted Thursday to approve a new contact for Dr. Jennifer Hammers, Wecht’s former assistant.

”I just had some real concerns,” said Carson.

Carson said there were multiple reasons why the county decided to move forward with Hammers, starting with a bidding process for two separate contracts in play: one to perform autopsies and what Carson said was an exclusive arrangement with the building, where the county’s autopsy suite is located.

”Dr. Wecht actually did not bid on the building, I don’t know why. He had in the past, but he did not bid on it. She was the only one who bid to manage the facility down here,” said Carson.

”I don’t know where Mr. Carson is coming from, came in with the idea of getting proposals ... that was, apparently it looks like a ruse, a not-so-subtle ruse, in retrospect, rather than just telling me that they were switching,” said Wecht.

Channel 11 asked Carson if Wecht’s age of 91 was part of that decision making process.

”It really wasn’t,” said Carson.

Wecht said he doesn’t intend to pursue any legal action and will continue doing autopsies for coroners in Armstrong, Greene, Fayette and Indiana counties.

He will also be testifying in Westmoreland court cases next month.

”I’ll get up from the ground, deal with it, find another place to perform autopsies and move ahead,” said Wecht.

Wecht said he’s scheduled to do a national interview about the government possibly releasing materials in JFK’s autopsy. He said he turns 92 in a few months and looks forward to the future.

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