Man selected to replace embattled Pierce County Medical Examiner withdraws

Man selected to replace embattled Pierce County Medical Examiner withdraws
File photo of Dr. Thomas Clark

TACOMA, Wash. — The man chosen to replace Dr. Thomas Clark as the new head of the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office has decided to remain IN California instead, the county announced Tuesday.

Dr. Mark Fajardo was named Pierce County’s chief medical examiner in December, but said he will stay in Riverside County.

Dr. Karen Cline-Parhamovich has agreed to accepted the position, subject to confirmation by the Pierce County Council. Cline-Parhamovich currently is the interim state chief medical investigator with the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Content Continues Below

She is expected to come to Pierce County after she gets her licensure in Washington and finishes her work in New Mexico.

Clark stepped down in September after months of employee complaints, including a whistleblower complaint, accusations filed with the Washington Medical Commission and an investigation by the state Department of Health.

Dr. Megan Quinn filed a whistleblower complaint against Clark, accusing him of taking shortcuts on death investigations, particularly involving children. She also claimed Clark has retaliated causing her suspension in February 2019.

"Dr. Clark has also lodged complaints against, as far as I can tell, everyone who has spoken out against him," Quinn told KIRO 7 in September.

Two forensic investigators also went public with their concerns talking with KIRO 7 in March, eight employees signed a letter of no confidence.

“We’re terrified to speak out because we’re afraid of retaliation, we’re afraid of bullying,” said medicolegal death investigator Jill Lombardi. “I don’t think Dr. Clark should be in charge or oversee any human being,” added Medicolegal Death Investigator Jacob Atzet.

Three complaints were filed with the Washington Medical Commission, one by Quinn, and two by former associate medical examiners.

In July, a state investigation into complaints against Clark including that he “fails to send vitreous electrolytes,” bodily fluids, “for testing in the deaths of children that were ruled undetermined, performs limited autopsies in cases of undetermined SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, and fails perform autopsies on charred bodies recovered from a fire scene,” was expanded.

Cline-Parhamovich currently is the Interim State Chief Medical Investigator with the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque. She is expected to come to Pierce County after she gets her licensure in Washington and finishes her work in New Mexico.

“I am pleased to welcome this highly skilled forensic pathologist to Pierce County,” said Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County executive. “Dr. Cline-Parhamovich’s breadth of experience, strong administrative skill and demonstrated leadership will support the employees of the Medical Examiner’s Office and serve the people of Pierce County who rely on this critical role.”

Below is KIRO 7′s previous coverage of Clark: