On Monday, July 11, Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger was invited to speak to the “Prime timers” group of the Washington County Farm Bureau at their monthly meeting at Little Nashville. Styninger gave a brief overview of the duties and obligations of the Coroner’s office.
He stated the primary function of the Coroner is to investigate all unattended deaths in the county, determine the cause and manner of the death and issue permits to those seeking to be cremated.
A fourth duty Styninger himself has implemented is public education. Mark stated he has spoken to dozens of school and civic groups since being elected Coroner in 2008.
He has given several programs to students at Okawville and Nashville High Schools on the perils of drinking and driving and most recently drug and heroin use.
Educational requirements were discussed. The Coroner, once elected, is required to attend a 40 hour death investigation class, a 40 hour firearm training class and 24 hours a year of continuing education.
Styninger mentioned he has been a funeral director/embalmer for over 30 years, a previous paramedic with 25 years of EMS experience and has 2 degrees from SIU Carbondale.
The Coroner then demonstrated the “Fatal Vision” goggle program to the group. This program allows the participant to put on different goggles with each goggle depicting a different level of impairment. The participant is then instructed to perform simple tasks such as dribbling a basketball or walking a straight line.
Since implementing this program in 2012, Styninger stated there has not been one single teenage drinking and driving auto fatality in Washington County.
The Coroner is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since taking office, Styninger has seen the call volume rise from approximately 45 calls a year to 120.
Following the presentation, the group engaged the Coroner with several questions.
Mark and his wife Becky reside in Nashville with their three children; Brock, Bryce and Bridget.