Sparks preparing for role as coroner


When Boone County Coroner Shon Hough asked his friend, Justin Sparks, if he was interested in being a deputy coroner, Sparks was hesitant.


“I had been a firefighter and paramedic for 17 years, and being a coroner was not something I initially thought of doing,” Sparks said. “Shon said, ‘Give it a shot. If you don’t like it, that’s fine.’ I went through the school and got credited as death investigator, and I’ve been working with him ever since.”

Sparks has been the Boone County deputy coroner for seven years. He is paid per case. He is now running unopposed in the Nov. 3 election to become the Boone County coroner, which is a part-time position. Sparks also was unopposed in the Republican primary.

“Being unopposed has allowed me to concentrate on being prepared on Day 1,” he said. “Shon will be a valuable resource.”

Sparks, who works as an executive officer for the Wayne Township Fire Dept. in Indianapolis, and his wife, Cami, and three daughters moved to Thorntown about 7 1/2 years ago.

Hough has served two consecutive terms, so he was unable, due to term limits, to serve a third.

“He is done as coroner for at least four years,” Sparks said. “We’ve talked on and off about me running. I’m a relatively private person, so this was a step out of my comfort zone. But my wife, my family, my friends and co-workers encouraged me. If I’m going to do something, I want to be committed to it and want to make sure we are doing it as good as we can.”

Sparks said from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 in 2019, the coroner’s office investigated 75 cases.

“This year from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1, we’re already at 112 cases,” he said. “With the caseload and population going up, the office needs to grow with that.”

Before filing his candidacy, Sparks met with Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen and other county officials.

“My goal is to work with all the agencies around the county to get their insight on how the office can improve,” he said. “I want to take the coroner’s office to the next level as far as organization and the way we do things.”

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