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Riverside County's Chief Pathologist Slated to Be Next 'Coroner to the Stars'

Photo Credit: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website.
Photo Credit: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website.

Riverside County's chief forensic pathologist will be leaving the county to become Los Angeles' new chief medical examiner- coroner, or the 'coroner to the stars,' as some refer to the position.

The L.A. Board of Supervisors appointed Dr. Mark Fajardo this week to the new role.  He'll be succeeding Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, who is retiring after more than 21 years in the position.

Fajardo has been Riverside County's chief forensic pathologist for 13 years, overseeing more than 1,300 autopsies annually, including that of former Los Angeles Police Department Officer turned alleged killer Christopher Dorner, according to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's website. 

He has more than 20 years of experience in the field of pathology, according to L.A. county documents.

In an interview for the blog, Fajardo said he wasn't accustomed to dealing with celebrity cases, but the rest of the job should be similar to the work he does now.

"This is as far removed as you can get from what most people think of as working as a doctor," Fajardo said.

"But for me, every case is a puzzle I get to solve, hopefully in a way that gives their families closure. I speak for the dead. I try to answer the questions about how they lost their lives."

Fajardo will be paid $275,000 annually and start his new job in August, according to county documents.   He'll also get a relocation allotment of $25,000 to move out of Riverside County, closer to the new job.

Due to the long-standing history between the Los Angeles coroner and celebrity deaths, the position has been dubbed the 'coroner to the stars.'

It's not yet clear who will take over Fijardo's role in Riverside County, and calls for comment Wednesday weren't immediately returned.


– City News Service contributed to this report. 

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