Family of teen who died in fall from Puyallup bridge suing to have cause of death changed

PUYALLUP, Wash. — When 16-year-old Jordon Gish died after falling from a Puyallup bridge July 6, 2017, Pierce County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark ruled the death a suicide. Now, the teenager’s family is suing to have the cause of death and death certificate changed.

“Because it wasn’t a suicide,” Gish’s father Michael told KIRO 7 in March. “To see the death certificate, the fact that I’ve already lost my son and then to see that. It wasn’t a suicide, it shouldn’t be there.”

According to the suit, filed Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court, Michael Gish claims, “The erroneous cause of death determination affects entitlements to available benefits that have otherwise been denied.”

The suit asks the court to prohibit Clark from blocking a change in the death certificate and, “from using private information to disparage or otherwise publicize in a false light Jordon or Michael Gish, or the manner of Jordon Gish's death.”

KIRO 7 has talked with current and former employees of the Pierce County medical examiner's office who have openly questioned Clark's methods and decisions in death investigations. He is the subject of three complaints before the Washington Medical Commission and a whistleblower complaint filed by associate medical examiner Dr. Megan Quinn.

In an email to KIRO 7 a spokesperson for Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier said, “We offer our condolences to the Gish family on the loss of their son. While the review process may be difficult, we hope it will bring some measure of peace”.

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