During a regular meeting of the Pulaski County Commission, commissioners expressed concerns over reports from agencies that Pulaski County Coroner Gary Carmack has not been answering calls. The Daily Guide recorded the meeting on Facebook Live and the video is available at www.facebook.com/WaynesvilleDailyGuide.
According to Western District Commissioner Rick Zweerink, he had been "hit up three times" about the issue.
"It's been brought to my attention several times by officials here in the county that they call the coroner and he won't respond. You can't get him no where, shape, or form. He won't respond to nothing. Now, they're asking what we can do. We've got a problem guys," Zweerink said.
Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk said the commission would have to set up a meeting with Carmack and talk with him.
"He is an elected official so the only thing I can really do is sit down and talk to him," Newkirk said.
When asked if, when the coroner is called out to a death, whether he's is coming to the call, commissioners said he isn't showing up.
Newkirk said there was an incident where a deputy was left with a body for two hours waiting for a response from the coroner. Commissioners also said other agencies, besides the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department, are reporting that the coroner isn't responding to calls.
There was some discussion about whether there were deputy coroners that could be called, but the commission was unaware of any individuals who had been officially named deputy coroners.
In response to other media saying that Carmack had said he wasn't notified of deaths in the past, Zweerink walked over to the sheriff's office and asked Pulaski County Sheriff Jimmy Bench to join the meeting to answer questions.
Bench said that he was aware of three recent calls where Carmack didn't respond and he was also unaware of anyone officially named as a deputy coroner. Bench said he had fielded calls from other agencies who were unable to reach Carmack so had called Bench instead.
"What I'm taking from this is that there's nobody in charge, correct?" Zweerink asked Bench.
Bench said that as far as he knew, when it came to deputy coroners, that was correct.
Bench and the commission discussed the possibility that Carmack may be experiencing a lack of reception on his cell phone or other possibilities as to why he wasn't responding to calls.
The Daily Guide asked if Carmack had a radio and could be informed by dispatch and the commission said that if he didn't, all he had to do is ask. The commission discussed talking things over with Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney and county council, Kevin Hillman, to find out what can be done.
Carmack announced, via his personal Facebook page, in a public post, that he would be resigning as county coroner a couple of hours after the meeting.
"I am resigning as county coroner, sorry for letting anyone down," Carmack wrote.
The Daily Guide attempted to reach Carmack via Facebook messenger, as well as a phone number we had on file, to offer him a chance to tell his side of the story, but did not receive a response or answer.
The Daily Guide called Newkirk after Carmack posted his intent to resign to ask for comment. Newkirk said that he couldn't comment until he had received official word from Carmack, but did tell the Daily Guide that should Carmack officially resign, the County Commission would appoint an interim County Coroner until the governor was able to appoint one.
The Daily Guide will continue to follow this story as it develops.