Time to Mark Your Calendar!

February 3rd, 2015

Amarillo Civic Center

Elias J. Kontanis, PhD

Coordinator – Medicolegal Operations

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

     Elias J. Kontanis joined the NTSB Transportation Disaster Assistance Division in April 2008 as the Coordinator for Victim Recovery and Identification. In this capacity he is responsible for facilitating the victim recovery and identification process following transportation mass fatality incidents and has responded to 25 aviation, highway, rail, pipeline, and marine accidents.

     Prior to his current position with the NTSB, he served as a forensic anthropologist, field recovery leader, and DNA coordinator at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command – Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC-CIL). During his tenure at the JPAC-CIL, he served as a liaison with the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and the FBI concerning DNA analysis efforts to facilitate victim identification; as a field instructor with the DOJ International Criminal Investigation Training Assistance Program in Bogota, Colombia, and as a consultant to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Central Institute of Forensic Science – Thailand.

     Elias served as a member of the Department of Health and Human Services Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, where he participated in the victim identification efforts following the crash of EgyptAir flight 990 and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Elias has also worked as a forensic anthropologist in the Republic of Cyprus with Physicians for Human Rights and has consulted for various city and county medical examiner jurisdictions. From 2010-2013, he served as Chair of the Scientific Working Group on Disaster Victim Identification, an international consortium sponsored by the National Institute of Justice to develop guidelines and best practices for mass fatality medicolegal operations.

     Elias earned a PhD in biology from Cornell University in 2005 and is a Registered Medicolegal Death Investigator. He is also an active FAA Certificated Flight Instructor and Advanced Ground Instructor and serves as an FAA Safety Team Representative

Introduction to the NTSB and Family Assistance

NTSB Mission:

  • Determine probable cause(s) of transportation accidents
  • Make recommendations to prevent reoccurrence
  • Conduct special studies and investigations
  • Coordinate resources to assist victims and their families after an accident


  • Overview of the NTSB
  • What is family assistance - How do we define "family member"
  • Overview of the Family Assistance Operations

            *  Friends and Relatives Center

            *  Family Assistance Center

            * Joint Family Support Operations Centers