The Yolo County Sheriff’s Department lost its longtime chief deputy coroner Friday with the sudden resignation of Robert LaBrash.
Both LaBrash and Sheriff Ed Prieto confirmed the resignation Monday night but declined to specify the reason for his departure.
“For personal reasons I chose to resign,” LaBrash said in a brief phone interview. “I made a choice, and it’s a done deal.”
Prieto, who promoted LaBrash to chief deputy coroner in 2006, said the resignation came as a surprise.
“Sometimes a person does what they feel is best for them,” Prieto said. “He was an exceptional deputy coroner, knowledgable and well-respected. He will be missed.”
LaBrash had been with the Sheriff’s Department since 1995, five years after starting his career as a forensic autopsy assistant with the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from UC Davis.
He also is a fellow with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators — one of only five in the state of California, according to his biography on the Sheriff’s Department website.
LaBrash’s departure leaves three deputy coroners at the Sheriff’s Department, which according to Prieto tracks as many as 900 deaths each year. Those that occur under sudden, violent or otherwise unusual circumstances result in autopsies and investigations to determine the cause and manner of death.
One of the three deputies, Gina Moya, has been tapped to lead the coroner’s division in an acting capacity until a new chief deputy is named.
“Hopefully we can promote someone in house,” the sheriff said Monday. “Right now, that unit works so well together that I’d hate to bring someone in from the outside (to lead them).”
— Reach Lauren Keene at email@example.com or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene