Indiana Coroner Showed Up At Crime Scene Drunk, Police Say

indiana coroner drunk

When Tamara Vangundy showed up at a crime scene early Thursday morning in suburban Indianapolis, she was stumbling and swaying and reeked of alcohol, police say.

The coroner for Hancock County, Ind., suspected of being drunk, was asked to take a sobriety test, which she failed. Police then took her to the county jail, where a breathalyzer test revealed that she had a blood-alcohol content of .16 -- twice the state's legal limit, Indianapolis TV station WISH reports.

Vangundy, who posted bond Thursday and was due in court Friday, faces charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and official misconduct, according to court documents.

"It was just a poor decision," WSBT-TV in Mishawaka quotes Vangundy as saying, as she was being booked into the jail.

According to police, Vangundy, 49, admitted to consuming 18 ounces of wine -- about three-quarters of a typical bottle of wine -- but stopped at 8:30 p.m the previous evening. She drove to the scene of the apparent suicide in her own vehicle, because she said that she thought she might be too intoxicated to drive the county-owned van, according to reports.

"[Vangundy] didn't even need to be there," The Indianapolis Star reports Hancock County Sheriff Mike Shepherd as saying. A deputy coroner arrived before she did and had already performed necessary duties at the death investigation.

"She should have just stayed home," Shepherd said. "If you've even had that first drink, don't take that chance."

According to statistics from the National Institutes of Health, gathered in 2006, about 15 percent of Americans -- or nearly 20 million people -- are affected in some way by alcohol while on the job. The data showed that nearly 2 percent of workers drank before work, while 1.7 percent were under the influence of alcohol.

Seven percent consumed alcohol during the workday, and nearly 10 percent worked with a hangover.

Data from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration indicate that as many as 20 percent of workers who die on the job test positive for alcohol or other drugs.

The agency notes that industries with the highest rates of drug use are the same as those at a high risk for occupational injuries, such as construction, mining, manufacturing and wholesale.

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