HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The highest paid city employee in Honolulu, the Chief Medical Examiner, is leaving his job at the end of the month.
He cites family matters as the reason for his departure, but one councilman suspects there’s another reason.
Dr. Christopher Happy has been the doctor for the dead since 2013. Last year, Happy told Hawaii News Now about the struggles of keeping the office going.
He said almost every room in the building had water seeping through the walls. Happy also mentioned that the remains of five people had to be stored at an off-site facility because the office was at capacity.
It’s not clear if these issues have anything to do with Happy’s resignation.
His resignation letter, dated last Thursday, says a family member’s illness is the reason he is moving to Los Angeles. But Honolulu Council Chair, Ikaika Anderson says Mayor Kirk Caldwell had notified him recently that he was working to fire Happy.
“I don’t know the history and until we have a public hearing, if that’s even necessary, I don’t have all of the information in front of me to tell you what happened to Dr. Happy that led to the administration being unhappy with him,” Anderson said.
The position pays upwards of $300,000 a year because it requires extensive medical training.
“He could easily make more money in the private sector, and being the city medical examiner or ME, is a very difficult job not to mention a very gruesome job,” Anderson said.
The office investigates thousands of deaths a year and provides crucial information in police investigations.
The Chief Medical Examiner is appointed by the mayor but requires council approval.
The mayor’s office issued a brief statement wishing Dr. Happy well and thanking him for his service.
The statement also named Dr. Masahiko Kobayashi, one of the current deputies, as Acting Chief Medical Examiner.