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Dr. Happy starts job as chief medical examiner


Honolulu has a chief medical examiner on the job for the first time since October 2009. 

Dr. Christopher B. Happy took over as the head of the city Department of Medical Examiner this week, city officials said.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell appointed Happy on July 8. The appointment is subject to approval by the Honolulu City Council.

Happy’s appointment runs co-terminous with that of the mayor, whose term is up at noon Jan. 2, 2017.

The chief’s position has been vacant since Dr. Kanthi De Alwis retired on Nov. 1, 2009. City officials say the low pay attached to the position contributed largely to the struggle to replace De Alwis, noting that board certified pathologists are rare in the United States. The Salary Commission subsequently raised the pay to $250,000 annually.

Happy’s past positions include assistant medical examiner for the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office, chief medical examiner for the Milwaukee County Examiner’s Office, assistant medical examiner for the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office and city medical examiner in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.

Happy received his doctor of medicine degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine and did his residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and the University of New Mexico Medical Sciences Center.

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