Posted on Jun 22, 2017
Dr. Kenneth S. Snell, who has served as coroner and medical examiner for Minnehaha County since January 2011, addressed the Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls, Monday, June 19.  Snell is a forensic pathologist and works for Sanford Health Pathology Clinic. 

The Minnehaha County coroner is responsible for certifying all non-natural deaths in the county and all natural deaths outside of a medical care facility.  When necessary, the coroner will order an autopsy to determine the cause of death.  As the Minnehaha County medical examiner, Snell performs autopsies, collects evidence, generates formal reports and provides court testimony in criminal proceedings.
Snell explained he is responsible for investigating “all deaths by unnatural means or if there is a suspicion of unnatural means, including all deaths of accidental, homicidal, suicidal and undetermined manner, regardless of suspected criminal involvement in the death.” 

Snell, originally from Gadsden, Ala., earned his undergraduate and medical doctorate degrees and received pathology training at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Snell later completed a fellowship in forensic pathology at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, N.C.  He is board certified in anatomic/clinical pathology and forensic pathology. 

Snell worked for medical examiner offices in Charlotte and Memphis.  Prior to coming to South Dakota, Snell was with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and served as the chief medical examiner for two years. 
Program Highlights June 19, 2017:
  • Dr. Snell has been coroner for the Sioux Falls area since 2001.  The profession is one of the oldest known---since 925 AD.
  • The Coroner's Office answers the question:  Why Did Someone Die?
  • The office works with the city, county, and state.  It also works with law enforcement, archeologists and anthropologists.
  • The Sioux Falls morgue can store 5 bodies at a time; the Miami morgue can store 500.
  • The Coroner's Office issues death certificates, listing cause, mechanism, and the circumstances of the manner of death:  natural, suicide, accidental, homicide and/or undetermined.
  • The object of an autopsy is to document the cause of death:  disease, trauma, drugs.  It also collects evidence and identifies the body.
Next Week’s Program:
President Michelle Lavallee—The Year in Review