Autopsies resume at Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office; building is without heat

Autopsies resumed at the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office on Tuesday, but not at normal numbers.

Pipes froze at the ME's office and the Dallas County Health and Human Services building next door on Monday, preventing autopsies from happening.

Those autopsies continued on Tuesday with limited staff.

There is no heat in the building and the extreme conditions are proving very difficult to work in.

"It's very cold. My office is probably 32 degrees," said Dr. Jeffrey Barnard, the Dallas County Chief Medical Examiner.

Dr. Barnard was wearing his jacket and hat inside.

"People showed up this morning, but I had to send them home. It was just too cold," he said.

The Medical Examiner's Office, at the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science, was socked hard by the hard freeze.

"The heat went out, and the pipes froze, and then the pipes broke. So then water cascaded. A lot of the ceiling tiles came out," said Dr. Barnard. "They're trying to unthaw the pipes to try and fix what's cracked in the coils, if I understand correctly, or the boiler, and get it back up, so they can get heat in the building."

A limited number of autopsies are taking place with a smaller crew. A few techs braved the extreme conditions.

"As soon as we can get as many as we can get done today completed then I've got to get those people out of here as well," said Dr. Barnard. "We're needing the funeral homes to pick up as soon as they can because our spaces are getting reduced because we've got so many here that we had to carry over, but as soon as they show up, that opens another area. If it's on a rack or it's on a table, whichever, but so far we can still handle it."

SKY 4 captured crews on the roof where the building's HVAC system is housed.

"They're running around, doing what they can do, but, you know, some of this is going to require a little bit warmer weather and they'll hopefully be able to find whatever they need to get the heater back on," said Dr. Barnard.

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He hopes the repairs can be made soon, so heat can flow once again in the building and work can return to normal.