New Hampshire lawmakers are close to approving a federal grant to help the state Medical Examiners Office deal with a backlog of autopsies, mostly due to drug overdose deaths.
The Attorney General's office says annual drug deaths have increased in New Hampshire from 40 to approximately 500 over the last nine years. Those deaths have overwhelmed the two pathologists who perform autopsies for the state and sometimes testify during prosecutions.
On Friday, lawmakers will vote on a request to let the state accept $285,000 federal dollars aimed at creating a position for a new pathologist, says Attorney General Joe Foster.
"We've actually put this down as one of our highest priorities," Foster said.
Foster says the pathologist would start as a contracted position, but would hopefully become a full-time position funded at least in part by New Hampshire tax payers.