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Newton County chief deputy coroner passes away - KOAM TV 7

Newton County chief deputy coroner passes away

Updated June 27, 2013 at 4:10 PM CST:  Newton County deputy coroner Lee Ireland, 62, died Wednesday of a massive heart attack and his team mourns the loss of a colleague while at the same time try to figure out how to divide his work load.

According to the coroner, Mark Bridges, it was a co-worker who found Ireland and called for help.  Unfortunately there was nothing medical personnel could do.

He leaves a wife, daughter, three step children and five grandchildren.

Ireland also worked for the Housing Authority of Neosho.

Ireland's coworkers at the coroners office say after being in charge of most of the business portions of the office they are struggling to keep things running without him.

Bridges says when his deputy corner passed away he left behind many unfinished cases and unanswered questions.  Not only was Ireland a long time coworker and friend, but Bridges says he had a hand in all 206 cases the county has worked and is still working this year.  Those were filed away digitally.

"So that's something also he only knows how to do, so I'm going to have to figure that angle out also," says Bridges.  "They're all password protected, we do know where the passwords are - I hope we have all the passwords."

Bridges says he'll take over Ireland's responsibility of signing death certificates, and that signing a friend's of 40 years will be the hardest he's ever faced.

"Lee's death certificate is ready to be filed and so as soon as I leave here I'll go sign that death certificate, it'll be the toughest one I've ever signed," says Bridges.

Bridges says he is thankful to have help covering Ireland's workload and that another deputy coroner who works full time in the prosecuting attorney's office is stepping in and helping out for now.

"I help Mark still on a part time basis, as needed, when they're short somebody or they need some vacation covered, and so I'm doing a little bit more right now with Lee passing," says deputy coroner Steven Bock.

Bridges says he is looking into hiring someone part time until a permanent employee can be found for a man who was not only a public servant, but also a close friend.

"Rough on the outside, but tender as a lamb," says Bridges.  "He loved doing this business because he loved helping people, and he was a true public servant."

Ireland's memorial will be held this Saturday at Clark Funeral Home in Neosho from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

Posted June 27, 2013 at 11:03 AM CST:  The chief deputy coroner for Newton County died on Wednesday.  Lee Ireland, 62, is believed to have died from a heart attack.

Reporter Liz Holliday will have more on Ireland's passing this evening on KOAM News and Fox 14 News at 9.

 

Statement from Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges:

 

"My chief deputy coroner, Lee Ireland, died this Wednesday. He was at work and a female employee heard strange sounds coming from his office; she found him in the middle of a seizure. Paramedics and the emergency department at Freeman couldn't revive him. We believe that he had a massive heart attack. He ran the office for me, doing a lot of the paper work and death certificates for the Joplin hospitals; as well as covering a lot of on call time. I'm going to start wading through everything and try to figure out where he was on all of our cases. Lee was a good friend, we went back in our public safety careers over forty years and he had worked for me in the coroner's office in Newton County for almost seventeen years; he was 62."

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