Larimer County Coroner Dr. James Wilkerson has resigned, his last official day as County Coroner was Friday, September 2.
Wilkerson’s term was due to end in January 2023, following the November 2022 general election. To comply with the Colorado state statue [C.R.S. 1-12-209], the Larimer County Board of Commissioners is bound to fill the vacancy in the coroner’s office. Due to the timing of Wilkerson’s resignation and the proximity of the November election, the board elected to fill the vacancy with a non-political individual to serve the remainder of Wilkerson’s term.
Wilkerson plans to move near his family to San Antonio, Texas. “This move is a longtime dream come true for my wife and I,” Wilkerson said. He will continue to work as a medical examiner and looks forward to spending weekends and holidays with his grandchildren.
Gary A. Darling was nominated to fill the vacancy Sept. 6 at the regular County Board of Commissioners Administrative Matters meeting and sworn in by 8th Judicial District Chief Judge Susan Blanco at the County Justice Center de Larimer immediately after his appointment. While not running for coroner in the 2022 election, Darling brings significant experience to the position, including 30 years with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. He was later appointed Director of Criminal Justice Services, now known as Community Justice Alternatives.
Prior to working with Larimer County, Wilkerson trained on a U.S. Army scholarship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, then completed advanced training at Brooke Army Medical Center and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC.
He served 11 years in the U.S. Army, then served as Vice Chief of Staff, then Chief of Staff for five years at Mercy Medical Center in Merced, Calif., then in a leadership role in the practice of general pathology for 10 years. Wilkerson also served as chair of the ethics committee and president of the Merced-Mariposa County Medical Society in Merced, California.
Wilkerson is a Triple Board Certified Medical Examiner, who is a clinical, anatomical, and forensic pathology physician who determines the cause of death when a person dies unexpectedly. Wilkerson performed thousands of forensic autopsies and hundreds of scene investigations, and testified in numerous court cases. He has been practicing for 25 years, 14 of them in Larimer County, and is a regional medical examiner for Larimer County.
“The County Board of Commissioners wishes Dr Wilkerson every success in his new endeavors,” said council chair Kristin Stephens. “The Larimer County Coroner’s Office is in good hands. Thanks to Gary’s leadership experience and the high quality professionals who make up the office, we know that our community will continue to receive excellent customer service throughout this transition period.
“I am honored that the Larimer County Commissioners and the County Executive have asked me to fill this position,” Darling said. “I know we have a professional coroner’s office, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue the professionalism of the office and the excellent employees working there during this short time. »
Larimer County also hired Dr. Joseph White, an experienced medical examiner, to continue Wilkerson’s work at the Larimer County Regional Coroner’s Facility. White is from Augusta, Georgia, where he served as an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at Augusta University. White also served as co-director of the forensic pathology fellowship at the university, teaching other doctors how to perform autopsies.
Prior to teaching, White worked for five years performing forensic autopsies at the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office in Salt Lake City, Utah. He completed his Forensic Fellowship at the Denver Medical Examiner’s Office in 2011.
Larimer County is one of four other coroner’s offices in Colorado accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners and one of less than 100 offices nationwide that are currently accredited. Accreditation requires early review, regular inspection of facilities, policies, procedures and documentation or post-mortem examinations