Recently, two top candidates for the chief medical examiner position also declined job offers.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Ray Fernandez has declined the interim chief medical examiner position in Nueces County, he confirmed to 3NEWS.
Last Wednesday, the Nueces County Commissioner’s Court meeting ended with the unanimous vote to extend the job of interim chief medical examiner to Fernandez, the previous Nueces County chief medical examiner who retired in 2020.
Fernandez has since declined the position, he told 3NEWS. He is proposing a counter offer, though, which involves him helping get the position filled.
“We’ve got some people lined up to help provide coverage. So that’s the work that’s in progress,” Fernandez said. “It would only be temporary. 30 days and if necessary another 30 days, repeat 30 days. It’s just a work in progress. It’s in transition right now. I think they can probably sort it out here pretty soon with the country working on what they need to do. And I think they’ll probably get it done.”
Recently, two top candidates for the chief medical examiner position also declined job offers. Dr. Scott Luzi out of California was given a higher counter offer from his current employer and decided to stay where he was. The county then offered the job to an applicant out of Travis County who later declined the position.
This all comes after commissioners accepted the resignation of Chief Medical Examiner Adel Shaker after an investigation at the medical examiner’s office that led to the arrests of Shaker and former Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Sandra Lyden.
The arrest affidavit 3News obtained states that Shaker, as well as the Medical Examiner’s Office administrator and the Nueces County Human Resources director, all were aware that former assistant medical examiner Lyden was conducting autopsies without a license.
The arrests come after a months-long investigation by the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Rangers. According to the affidavit, the Texas Ranger assigned to the case believes Shaker knew Lyden never had a valid medical license before and after she was hired by Nueces County.
Lyden was fired in January for practicing without a license. Investigators then arrested Lyden in early March and charged her with tampering with government documents with intent to defraud — a state jail felony. She now faces 21 additional charges — 15 counts of practicing medicine without a license, and six counts of tampering with government documents.
County officials said they have hired a medical examiner head-hunter to find a temporary type of situation.
“It’s unpredictable,” Fernandez said. “Some days there’s a handful of cases, some days there’s many cases. You just never know and so they need to have enough staff to be available to handle the work load.”
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