CSI for Kids? Teen Earns Coroner Status

An Indiana teen is following in her father's footsteps and has become that state's youngest deputy coroner at just 18 years old.

The high school senior was recently certified by the state of Indiana as a medicolegal death investigator.

Amanda Barnett has always shared her father's passion for death investigations. Mark Barnett has served as the Jay County Coroner for the past 15 years.

"It's always been interesting to me," she said. "It's a challenge to figure out what happened."

Barnett said her father was not surprised when she told him she was going to get certified. He did, after all, buy her books on the subject and take her to numerous coroner conventions that helped develop her interest in the subject.

State Makes an Exception

Barnett had to receive special permission to attend the certification class because she was only 17 at the time. She may have been the youngest person in the class by far, but she was no less serious than her classmates.

"She's a bright young lady and a very good student," said Lisa Barker, executive director of the Indiana State Coroners Training Board.

Barnett said she is a fan of the television show CSI, but added that the crime drama is not always realistic when it comes to identifying the cause of a death.

"There are some similarities, but it's not that fast," said Barnett. "They teach us not to do what they do on CSI."

Of the three CSI television shows, CSI Las Vegas, CSI Miami and CSI New York, Barnett said that Las Vegas is her favorite.

With a population of 7,000, Portland, Indiana bears few similarities to the dramatic and complex Las Vegas crime scenes depicted in the show.

"I have yet to see a coroner drive a hummer," she joked.