Wortham said, "After one of the last deaths, I came out with flat tires on my van. That made me think that we needed to do something different." He began working on obtaining such a vehicle.
The coroner's office has since purchased a Humvee, which will be retrofitted for transporting bodies from areas that are hard to access with normal means of transportation.
Wortham is currently in the process of fencing and clearing property leased from Lloyd Kamp, located behind Heath Funeral Home, to utilize for the office of the coroner and to house the 1989 A-2 Humvee.
The vehicle was obtained as part of a military surplus program through the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO).
The coroner says the vehicle can operate in up to four feet of water, but can be retrofitted with a forging kit to allow it to go into water of any depth.
He said the Humvee would have been perfect during a recent choking death on the river near Hardy, or in other rescue instances in which normal vehicles may have problems.
Wortham said he has already spoken with search and rescue, local law enforcement and fire personnel, telling them the vehicle could also be used by the departments, any time they might have need.
Currently, the Humvee still sports its military camouflage paint, but will soon have a new coat of black paint and graphics applied by A-Z Printing. Wortham expects the paint to be complete by next week.
Deputy coroners Ashton Hester, Steven Rose, Wendall Lane and Seth Wortham have been working on things such as the electronics in the Humvee, since it's arrival.
Tim Hicks, with the Arkansas LESO office, explained the process of obtaining the military surplus equipment.
"The 1033 Federal surplus program, as it is called, allows agencies that have law enforcement powers to obtain surplus items, such as the Humvee."
The program gives the Secretary of Defense power to transfer, without charge, excess U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) personal property, including supplies and equipment, to state and local law enforcement agencies.
The 1033 Program has allowed law enforcement agencies to acquire vehicles from land, air and sea; weapons; computer equipment; body armor; fingerprint equipment; night vision equipment; radios and televisions; first aid equipment; tents; sleeping bags; and photographic equipment.
Hicks said, although the agency pays a fee for the vehicle, it is actually an acqusition fee from the state in which the equipment or vehicle was obtained.
Through the program, those obtaining the equipment can not sell the property if they deem it not usable, but can transfer or share it with other law enforcement entities.
The Humvee will be equipped with a state of the art night vision system to allow the coroner's office and search and rescue personnel further capabilites in regard to searching for persons during times of darkness.