Mercyhurst College forensic anthropologists Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., and Steven Symes, Ph.D, along with a team of eight graduate students, are in Buffalo, N.Y., today to assist with the recovery and identification of remains from the scene of a fatal plane crash in Clarence Center, just outside the city, last night.
The team arrived around 2 a.m. at the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office in Buffalo after being summoned by medical examiner Dianne Vertes, M.D. The Department of Applied Forensic Sciences at Mercyhurst has provided forensic anthropology consulting services to the Buffalo ME’s office for the past six years, and is expected to assist in the recovery and identification of remains from the crash site. News reports from the site indicate all 49 people aboard the Continental Connection 3407 flight were killed along with one person on the ground.
Dirkmaat and Symes are two of only about 60 board certified forensic anthropologists in North America and the only two in Pennsylvania. Dirkmaat is a recognized expert in recovery of remains, leading the forensic anthropology recovery effort in the fatal 9-11 crash at Somerset. Symes is a sought-after expert on trauma, including burned bone trauma, having recently co-edited a book titled “The Analysis of Burned Human Remains.”