The chief medical examiner for a Florida Panhandle district has threatened to stop serving Okaloosa and Walton counties if they don't pay up to $300 to have bodies sent to Pensacola for autopsies until he fills a vacancy in Fort Walton Beach.
Doctor Gary Cumberland has written a letter circulated to officials in both counties this week. He says he would support splitting the four-county district in half.
Cumberland serves Escambia and Santa Rosa counties from his Pensacola office. But he temporarily added the other two counties in May, after firing an associate medical examiner for Okaloosa and Walton.
In his letter to Okaloosa County Manager Chris Holley, Cumberland says he's ready to resign if the county fails to pay morgue fees for expenses such as returning bodies to funeral homes and toxicology tests.
He says a search for a new associate has been hampered because there are several other vacancies around the state, there are inadequate morgue facilities in Fort Walton Beach and there has been what he calls "negative press."