News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 18, 2014

Readers’ Forum: June 19, 2014

Coroner ruling seemed ‘absolute’

I have every respect for Dr. Kohr’s expertise as a pathologist, but I believe that his response to my letter (Tribune-Star, June 16) delicately danced around the point of the editorial. Dr. Amos’ statement in the Tribune-Star, assuming she was quoted correctly, was that “if the stroke had been related to trauma, it would have been a hemorrhagic stroke.” As an absolute, this statement simply is not true. For a brief but correct summary, Amos could have stated, “based on all the evidence, I don’t BELIEVE Salesman’s stroke was related to trauma.”

My editorial was not written as an exercise in semantic nitpicking. Amos’ inappropriately definitive statement completely exonerated Shafer and Pine of any responsibility. Good for Shafer and Pine, but not fully justified.

Minor points.

It’s true that a beating does not always result in brain trauma, but the chance is pretty good when the victim being kicked in the head suffers head injuries including a broken eye socket and cheek bone. I assume Union performed a CT scan on Salesman (maybe not), but an early scan does not rule out minor bleeding or other brain trauma.

If, as Dr. Kohr states, Salesman had co-morbidities associated with stroke in young individuals, then a possible 60 percent increase in risk is significant.

A phone call to Amos might have been appropriate. However, one has to assume that a pathologist already is aware of relevant recent studies.

Moreover, Dr. Kohr’s response is a good indication that any new information would have been ignored, and Shafer and Pine would still enjoy their complete exoneration.

I truly believe that Drs. Amos and Kohr based their final opinion on a wealth of medical knowledge and experience. But even a well-founded opinion should not be stated as an absolute in such a sensitive case.

— Jim Hughes

Terre Haute

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