New Honolulu medical examiner now on the job

Published On: Nov 20 2013 09:25:06 AM HST

Dr. Christopher B. Happy


For the first time since October of 2009, the City & County of Honolulu has a Chief Medical Examiner on the job.

Dr. Christopher B. Happy was appointed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell on July 8 and Dr. Happy subsequently obtained his license to practice medicine in Hawaii, allowing him to begin work this week.

"This city deserves a qualified Medical Examiner, and Oahu will benefit from Dr. Happy’s expertise on important investigations," said Caldwell. "I thank the Salary Commission for approving the salary increase necessary for us to recruit this qualified nationally certified forensic pathologist."

"I am looking forward to serving the citizens of the City and County of Honolulu and working with the public and with the government agencies tasked with keeping Oahu a healthy and safe place to live," said Dr. Happy. "The mayor’s office, medical examiner’s staff, and everyone I’ve met since arriving in Honolulu have been very welcoming."

Dr. Happy is certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology, and is a Fellow of the National Association of Medical Examiners. His past experience includes Assistant Medical Examiner at the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office; serving as the Chief Medical Examiner in the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office; Assistant Medical Examiner at the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner – Coroner’s Office; and City Medical Examiner in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.

Dr. Happy received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and did his residency in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and the University of New Mexico Medical Sciences Center. He was a Forensic Pathology Fellow and a Forensic Cardiac and Neuropathology Fellow in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.

The Chief Medical Examiner position had been vacant since Nov. 1, 2009, upon the retirement of Dr. Kanthi De Alwis. After struggling to find qualified candidates at a salary level considered low, the city proposed to raise the salary to $250,000 which was granted by the Salary Commission.

Board certified forensic pathologists are rare in the United States. Of approximately 17,000 medical school graduates each year, only 30 to 40 ultimately become forensic pathologists.

Dr. Happy’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Honolulu City Council.


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