‘Night with the Coroner’ comes to Lone Tree

Popular free series to feature doctor, archaeologist

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The Douglas County coroner’s successful public outreach series continues at 6:45 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Lone Tree Arts Center. “The Truth Uncovered: A Night with the Coroner” will feature Larimer County coroner Dr. Pat Allen and state archaeologist Tom Carr, with an introduction from coroner Lora Thomas.

Allen, 66, investigated the 144 deaths that occurred during the July 1976 Big Thompson flood in Larimer County.

The flood was triggered by 8 inches of rain that fell in one hour, turning the normally placid 2-foot-deep trickle into a raging torrent of water 19 feet high, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. It took unsuspecting campers by surprise, sweeping away cars, campers and buildings. In addition to the 144 lives, the flood destroyed 418 houses and 152 businesses, causing more than $40 million in damages.

Allen, one of four doctors with whom the Douglas County Coroner’s Office contracts, will talk about his experiences after the flood.

Carr, whose office assists with and researches historic and American Indian burials, works with county coroners on discoveries of unmarked, unrecorded burials.

“There’s always the chance that a citizen might stumble across a burial,” Carr said. “And they need to know the laws concerning what to do.”

Thomas helped launch the “Night with the Coroner” series, which regularly draws more than 100 people, in late 2011. 

During her 2010 run for the office, Thomas said people regularly asked her what the coroner does.

“I felt I really needed to do some public outreach so the public knows what their tax dollars were paying for,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of interest in death. People want to understand more about death and what an investigation is all about.”

Since some of the attendees are students, Thomas said, “We really try to include the idea that science is what solves a lot of these cases. If they want to be involved in this kind of work, it really pays to be involved in math and science classes.”

Donations are accepted for the free event, and the money benefits suicide prevention efforts in Douglas County.

For more information, visit www.douglas.co.us/coroner

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