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Take kids to work day gives child’s-eye view of coroner’s office

Yellow tape cordoned off the living room where a woman lay motionless on the carpet, bleeding from a gash on her head.

Investigators took notes, observing an overturned table, a stepladder next to a Christmas tree and a decorative star in a pool of blood. They interviewed an ill-tempered friend of the woman’s; he had found her and had blood on his hands.

“I think her friend with the bad temper hit her on the back of the head and made her fall down,” Alyssa Holliday said.

Her brother disagreed, pointing out blood on the corner of table. Beer cans littered the scene.

“I think her and her friend were drinking a lot of beer, and she accidentally cut her head with the star and then she fell,” and hit her head on the table, Alex Holliday said.

Their grandmother, Holly Rowland, who works in Clark County’s enterprise resource planning office, watched as they tried to deduce what happened to the woman.

Had the scene been real, the twins and many of the other investigators wouldn’t have been old enough to drive to it.

“They think they’re going to figure it out,” Rowland said.

The Clark County coroner’s office featured educational programs Thursday for children of county employees to celebrate Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The 11-year-old Holliday twins were two of a few dozen children investigating a fake crime scene set up for children between 11 and 17 years old.

The children were given a scenario and told to figure out how the woman, portrayed by coroner’s office assistant Kelsey Jeralds, “died.”

It was one of two programs offered at the coroner’s office Thursday, Coroner John Fudenberg said. The first was for children ages 10 and under; they learned anatomy through hands-on learning experience. The kids put together a paper skeleton to learn the bones, they traced organs on butcher paper and placed them on the skeletons and then they fingerprinted themselves and learned the science behind fingerprinting, Fudenberg said.

“It’s very age appropriate,” he said. “We’re not showing them any gruesome things or anything.”

Other Clark County departments also hosted programs for children. Among them was the public works department’s Roadeo event. There, kids sat in bucket trucks and street sweepers and watched crews demonstrate how they use cranes to install light poles, county spokeswoman Stacey Welling said.

After the children at the coroner’s office examined the scene, Dr. Lisa Gavin, a medical examiner at the coroner’s office taught them the systems of the human body and compared pictures of healthy organs with diseased organs.

While discussing the liver, she passed around plastic containers full of gallstones to the children, whose faces varied from intrigued to displeased.

“You have to understand what is the basic anatomy and what happens in the body for you to be able to know whether you’re looking at something that went wrong,” Gavin told the children.

She then revealed that the woman in their crime scene was drunk and had fallen from the ladder and hit her head on the table, dying of internal bleeding in her skull.

Metropolitan Police Department detective Jason Leavitt brought his 14-year-old daughter, Oaklie, and 16-year-old son, Erick. It was Erick’s first time at the program but Oaklie’s second.

Oaklie said she hopes that one day she’ll be investigating real scenes in a professional capacity. It’s something she’s wanted to do for a while. In the meantime, her dad driving her to fake scenes will have to do.

“I actually really enjoy this and I had a lot of fun,” she said.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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