Our company’s founder and executive director, Stephen Richey, returned to school at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan where he found a supportive environment for students who wish to do research and contribute to their world while working on their studies. Through a happy coincidence, he attended a medical conference and was having dinner with some colleagues. A discussion about injury mechanisms and risk factors led to a debate, which led to the idea of a research project to settle the matter.

Upon returning to Saginaw, the university officials decided to support the project, which would eventually turn out to be Kolibri Forensics. The project that Stephen started in 2007 was supposed to last for only a few months. However, the related research has continued for more than a decade now and has now grown into something far larger and more important. 

The project was originally focused on aircraft crash survivability, injury biomechanics, and injury prevention research. However, the disappearance of a friend led our executive director to add volunteer forensic search and recovery to the services offered. A small core group of caring and talented people coalesced over the next couple of years. Soon, their compassion, dedication, and unique blend of skills and knowledge gave rise to what our company is today.

The decision to form Kolibri as a nonprofit organization to continue the research and foster the other missions was made to provide transparency, accountability and for ethical reasons. 




Stephen is the founder of Kolibri Forensics, our executive director and has served as the chief researcher for the organization and its predecessor projects since 2008.  

His background is diverse, varied and helps to foster the success of Kolibri.  Initially he worked as an emergency medical services provider before entering the US Air Force in 2001.  After serving as a respiratory therapist without deploying overseas, he reentered the civilian world and worked as a therapist for several years before returning to work on his bachelor’s degree. He also volunteered as one of the few hundred respiratory therapists nationwide who work on air ambulances. While at university he discovered a love for forensics and entered the field through research and, later, employment as a deputy coroner.  

He has had his research and other writings published in several journals- including the Scandinavian Journal of Forensic Sciences, Journal of Special Operations Medicine, Journal of Emergency Nursing and  World Journal of Emergency Surgery- and various trade magazines and has presented or helped develop works that have been presented in United States, United Kingdom and France.  One of his previous review papers- on the history and mythology surrounding the use of tourniquets- was cited in the New England Journal of Medicine in an article discussing the medical care of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

His technical training includes qualifications in diving which is a vital skill for someone whose current work involves search and recovery missions in large bodies of water.  Currently, he is preparing to begin graduate studies in forensic anthropology in the Spring of 2018.

His professional memberships include the British Association for Human Identification and the Indiana Rural Health Association. Other volunteer activities in his spare time include membership in the Civil Air Patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. 

He was appointed an honorary colonel by the Governor of the State of Alabama in August 2017.

Outside of work, Stephen enjoys travelling, cooking (arguments have broken out in firehouses over who gets the last piece of his lasagna) and studying foreign languages.  He has five cats and two birds.  The cats- Callie, Thor, Loki, Tabitha and Morgana- are only half jokingly referred to as Kolibri’s ‘purr-sonnel’ and occasionally have been featured in social media posts.   

Jonathan Apfelbaum is an emergency physician working in the greater Denver Metro area. He became involved with emergency medical services (EMS) while attending college in 1986 and has been involved in EMS ever since.

After an emergency medicine residency and EMS fellowship, he’s been fortunate enough to be involved with a number of agencies and programs, including urban, suburban, and rural EMS agencies and Fire Departments, search and rescue teams, university paramedic programs, tactical medical teams, and several national medical response teams.

He and his wife are avid SCUBA divers as well as pilots and are looking forward to contributing towards the success of Kolibri Forensics.


Garrett has worked as a paramedic in Indianapolis since 2006. He has a variety of interests in the community and advocating for EMS locally, regionally, and nationally. In 2017 he won the national EMS advocate of the year award from NAEMT. He participates in several different committees nationally for EMS including as chairman of the EMS Workforce committee. He has served on the board of directors for the Kiwanis Club of Northwest Indianapolis and is an Eagle Scout.

He received his Associates Degree in Paramedic Science from the IU School of Medicine. His Bachelors is in Health Services Management from IU. He also has a Masters in Healthcare Administration from the IU School of Medicine. In 2017 he began coursework towards a certificate in Nonprofit Board Governance. 

Garrett serves as the treasurer for Kolibri.


Katrina has worked as an emergency medical technician for several years and currently works in Indianapolis.  She has served as a research associate for Kolibri and its predecessors since 2011.  She was coauthor of a fracture biomechanics paper in the Scandinavian Journal of Forensic Sciences as part of her duties with Kolibri.  

She is also cross-qualified as a diver in addition to her duties as the secretary for the organization.



Providing the necessary manpower for all of our search and recovery work are the our top-notch volunteers.


Lisa M. Daly is an expert in aviation archaeology. Her doctoral thesis focused on the material culture of the Second World War on the landscape of Gander, Newfoundland (meaning she chased WWII plane crashes around Gander). Her research has continued to take her around Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, finding, recording, mapping and researching historic crash sites. Her doctorate is from Memorial University of Newfoundland and she holds an MSc in forensic and biological anthropology from Bournemouth University.

When not researching aviation history, Lisa is active in the heritage industry, serves on the staff of a small history museum in St. Johns, Newfoundland, is a professional historical tour guide and has worked an volunteered in event planning and fundra

Follow her research at


Kolibri Forensics has a human remains detection canine (K9) and handler available. They are based in Idaho but are available to travel as needed.