KENNEWICK -- Roy McLean's background as a teacher makes him certain there's a lesson to be learned and a story to be told by everyone, even in death.
His longtime interest in forensics steered him toward a path he says "either intrigues or makes people feel uncomfortable."
McLean became a part-time Benton County deputy coroner in January 2009, after retiring in 2007 after 30 years as a math and science teacher at Desert Hills Middle School in Kennewick.
To give the public a chance to see and learn more about the work of the Benton County Coroner's Office, McLean teaches a two-hour class called Death Scene Investigation through the Kennewick School District's Community Education program. The class is split between one hour of classroom presentation and a tour of the Benton County Coroner's Office.
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The popularity of TV shows such as NCIS and CSI seem to be one of the main reasons his Feb. 6 class filled up before lunch on the first day of registration.
Larry Hyde, 71, of Burbank, signed up because "it sounded very interesting to me. I watch a lot of the CSI-type TV shows and I'm interested in learning about the techniques they use."
McLean covers the basics of county coroners' responsibilities in the investigation of all unattended deaths and what they look for at a death scene during the classroom portion of the class.
"It's an awesome responsibility but also an awesome privilege to care for someone's loved one," he told the class.
Students got to see the storage coolers, the autopsy room, tools used and other parts of the coroner's office in Kennewick.
McLean says comments on evaluation forms filled out by the students are overwhelmingly supportive and positive about the class. "People seem to enjoy the information, and I think about 80 percent of the participants request a part two to the class," he said.
It's all part of the coroner's office's goal -- to make the office a "learning center for the living."
More information and the schedule is available at 509-222-5080 and http://communityed.ksd.org.
The class costs $15. Participants must be 18 years old.
Graphic images from forensic pathology textbooks are used in the presentation.
* Bob Brawdy: 509-582-1548; firstname.lastname@example.org