Nearly 10 years ago, Dr. James Jungels responded to the scene of multiple deaths on a boat, including a woman on the roof. As he pulled up to the scene, he saw emergency personnel lining the cove.
Nearly 10 years ago, Dr. James Jungels responded to the scene of multiple deaths on a boat, including a woman on the roof. As he pulled up to the scene, he saw emergency personnel lining the cove. There was another body lying on the stairs leading to the cabins, with a face Jungels could only describe as “beet red.” Inside, there was a woman and man dead on the bed as well. He says it was clear that carbon monoxide poisoning was involved.
This is one of the many scenes Jungels was a part of in his career, the recollections of a man who has seen many unpleasant sights and mysteries in his time as county coroner. Jungels was recently recognized at the Camden County Courthouse with an award celebrating his many years as county coroner. With such an extensive history of medical work behind him, he shared a brief summary of his time in the field.
In 1984, Jungels began working as an inmate doctor at the county jail. Treating colds, aches and whatever else came up, Jungels became good friends with then Sheriff Witten. He was even given a deputy’s badge for his work. At the time, Witten alerted Jungels that the coroner was quitting and thought it would be best if he ran the position. He accepted and was elected shortly after.
Only a few years into his work, Jungels recalls a year with around 12 homicides. This was a tense time, and he recalls much of it spent with these cases pushing him to learn the role quickly.
“We got pretty good at it,” Jungels said. “You made sure your sink was clean and it was a learning process.”
After Camden County was classified as a first class county, Jungels responsibilities grew as he was recognized as the county medical examiner. In this role, he would even have to take over as sheriff from time to time if the county sheriff was feeling under the weather or incapacitated for any reason. He continued his coroner training in St. Louis and learn more in the skill of forensics.
“I remember having to learn to take fluids from the eyeball,” Jungels said. “That was pretty gross, I’ll admit.”
Dr. Jungels continued work in the county even after ending his time as coroner. He provided care at the Macks Creek clinic prior to Lake Regional purchasing it in 1993, and continued to serve at the clinic until retiring from practice in the fall of 2015. He says his biggest record of work involved delivering 69 babies in a single month.
He says the job was a much-needed aid to his need for an adrenaline rush over the years. Being able to pull up to the scene of an accident and determine the causes was an aspect that kept him sharp. He says that through it all, he most enjoyed the fact that he was not only able to serve his job well, but that he was also able to serve the families who were involved.
“They tell me that they were lucky to have me,” Jungels said. “I felt like I was lucky to have everyone who I had worked for.”