Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office Pulse Media Advisory | June 16, 2016

Orange County, FL – UPDATE: Media Advisory

The Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office has the following information to report regarding the status of its operations as of 10 a.m. on June 16:

Media may use the following statement from Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Stephany on behalf of the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office:

“This has been the most difficult week for our community. I’d like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of singer Christina Grimmie, the Pulse nightclub shooting victims and 2-year-old Lane Graves.

Our commitment to these families has not only been to assist law enforcement with their investigations, but to ensure families receive the necessary care and support during this difficult time as well as reunite them with their loved ones.

I am fortunate to work alongside a dedicated team, who tirelessly worked to accomplish and conclude this process.

The Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System (FEMORS) and law enforcement were instrumental in response to the Pulse shooting. Together, we effectively and efficiently completed the identification, notification and autopsy process within a 72-hour period – a monumental task.

The Pulse shooter was transported separately from the scene. His remains are being held in a separate building at the ME facility. The shooter’s autopsy was also conducted in another building, away from the victims. This is not a law or requirement, but was rather done out of respect for the victims and their families so that the shooter may never be near the 49 beautiful souls again.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the medical professional community and to those who sent messages or tokens of support through these difficult days. While our team trains for such incidents, nothing could truly prepare anyone for this devastating loss. We are honored to have been entrusted to care for all of these individuals, yet saddened to now be among those communities affected by such profound tragedies.”

  • All forty-nine (49) victims and the suspect connected to Pulse Nightclub Orlando shooting have been identified.
  • The immediate next of kin for all forty-nine (49) victims have been notified through the help of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
  • Autopsies are required to be conducted in all cases of homicide. The Medical Examiner (ME) completed all autopsies on Tuesday afternoon, June 14.
  • This is an active criminal investigation, therefore, the autopsy results and any reports generated will not be released at this time. This includes funeral home information.
  • As of June 16 afternoon, all of the 49 victims have been released to a funeral home.
  • Orange County medical staff included: Joshua Stephany, M.D.; Jessie Giles, M.D.; Marie Hansen, M.D.; Gary Utz, M.D. and Sara Zydowicz, D.O.
  • From FEMORS – (Sarasota, District 12): Chief Medical Director Russell Vega, M.D., and Associate ME Wilson Broussard, M.D.
  • Chief Medical Director Dr. Joshua Stephany was appointed as the Chief Medical Examiner for Orange County, Tuesday June 14 and served in an interim capacity since June 2015. His appointment had been scheduled prior to the June 12 tragedy. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said, “Although June 15 was Dr. Stephany’s first official day as Orange County’s Medical Examiner, his actions throughout the past few days, coupled with his vast experience, make it clear that he is the right person for the job. Dr. Stephany has responded to these tragedies with the utmost care and professionalism.”
  • The media contact for FEMORS is Operations Commander Dr. Jason Byrd. He is an Associate Professor with the University of Florida. He is credited with mobilizing the additional ME support for Orange County. Dr. Byrd has also managed response to other mass casualty events. Dr. Byrd’s PIO is Rossana O. Passaniti of the University of Florida, Passar@shands.ufl.edu.

About FEMORS: The State of Florida, in its disaster preparedness effort, and the William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine have collaborated to develop and implement protocols to respond to a mass fatalities incident within its borders using trained personnel from multiple state, and local agencies, as well as other specialized resources in the event of a human-made or natural catastrophic incident. The FEMORS mission is to assist and support the local District Medical Examiner’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other responding agencies, in the event of a mass fatality incident as directed by the Florida Department of Health.

About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its citizens and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world-famous theme parks, the nation’s second-largest convention center, and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners including the Mayor who is elected countywide. For more information, please visit www.OCFL.net or go to the Orange County Facebook and Twitter pages.

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