Two Ind. Paramedics Vie For Coroner Job

Two Ind. Paramedics Vie For Coroner Job

News Nov 14, 2012

LA PORTE COUNTY — A pair of Wanatah residents face-off in this year's La Porte County Coroner race as Democratic incumbent John Sullivan takes on Republican challenger Rodney Peters.

Before becoming Coroner, Sullivan previously worked as a La Porte County paramedic for ten years, a La Porte County deputy coroner for ten years, and chief deputy coroner for another decade.

The incumbent said the coroner works closely with the police and fire departments and emergency medical services, and performs duties similar to those of paramedics, firefighters, morticians, investigators and counselors.

"You can't beat experience," Sullivan said. "I'm the best candidate for La Porte County Coroner because of my 20 years of experience in the office as an investigator."

Peters has also worked as a La Porte County paramedic for about five years, and was one of the original team members of the La Porte County hazmat team, with whom he worked for at least five years.

For more than a decade, Peters was also a volunteer firefighter in Hanna Township. While he is not actively working for the Fire Department, he has maintained his certification as a second class firefigher in Indiana.

"I am the best candidate for La Porte County Coroner because I will work with the County Commissioners and County Council to provide the best possible service to the taxpayers," Peters said.

In addition to his coroner duties, Sullivan is a firefighter of 25 years and a captain at Fire Station 2 in La Porte. He is also a school bus driver in Wanatah, a job he has held for the past 33 years.

He said one of his greatest accomplishments in his first term as La Porte County Coroner was having updated all 9-1-1 radio communications, including hand-held radios and pagers for the deputy coroners.

Peters is currently a contract driver for a company that leases truck drivers to major corporations. He also serves as the president of the Northern Indiana Modelers Association, and has possessed a commercial pilot's license with instrument rating since 1977.

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If elected, he said he would like to reduce spending on cell phones and equipment repairs.

"A $10,000 per year budget for cell phones needs more explanation; $300 per month for electronic repairs needs more explanation," Peters said.

Sullivan said he takes pride in that he and all eight of his deputies are certified medicolegal death investigators (MDI) who acquire continuing education credits each year.

Coroners must be certified MDI within the first year of their first term. However, deputies are not required to complete the training.

If elected for a second term as coroner, Sullivan said he would like to secure enough laptop computers so that each of his deputies has one. Currently, the eight deputies share three laptops.

"It would make everything run more efficiently," Sullivan said.

All 92 Indiana counties use the same Internet-based coroner reporting system, making records uniform and readily accessible to families, insurance companies, funeral homes, the Social Security Administration, police and others.

The Coroner, a part-time position, is responsible for identifying the cause and manner of death in about 300 cases per year.

Copyright 2012 The News Dispatch, Paxton Media GroupDistributed by Newsbank, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The News-Dispatch (Michigan City, Indiana)
Kelley Smith
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