Stephen Anthony CullenBMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c996 (Published 19 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c996
- Tony Batchelor,
- John L Christie
Air Commodore Stephen Anthony Cullen (“Tony”) was an aviation pathologist of international repute.
Tony, himself the son of a doctor, was born in Liverpool in 1939 and qualified in medicine from Liverpool Medical School in 1962.
He was commissioned into the Royal Air Force Medical Branch in 1964, and after initial general training was posted to the RAF Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine (IPTM), Halton, to train in pathology. In 1967 he was attached to the Royal Australian Air Force Hospital, Butterworth, Malaysia, then a main transit point for Australian military personnel en route to Vietnam, and for casualties returning to Australia. While at Butterworth, Tony, typically, managed to remain friends with everyone, while achieving a major upgrade in the pathology service.
However, soon after returning to IPTM, he began his life’s work as a forensic pathologist specialising in aircraft accident investigation. In this he followed Group Captain (later Professor) Ken Mason, Group Captain Peter Stevens, and Group Captain Tony Balfour. Over a working lifetime Tony gained a breadth and depth of experience which was unique.
In fatal aircraft accidents, the pathologist deals usually with fragmented and commingled human remains. Yet he hopes to identify the deceased (especially the pilot and other aircrew) and, with the other on site investigators to reconstruct the accident, on the basis of the patterns of injuries found in the passengers and crew. (Occasionally, it …