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Coroner
Amanda Abbott
1857 S Jackson St. • Frankfort , IN 46041
Phone:765-659-6312 • Fax:
           765-652-0355
By Appointment
 


As a citizen of Indiana, you are served by a County Coroner who will treat every family with respect, dignity and compassion and investigate to determine the cause of death Particularly deaths that occur under unusual circumstances. The County Coroner is an elected official with many responsibilities, the foremost being the oversight of the investigation and certification of a variety of deaths within the Coroner's jurisdiction for legal or public health interest. The Coroner is required by law, to determine the cause, circumstances and manner of death for cases found to be under the Coroner's legal jurisdiction. The vast majority of coroner investigations are natural deaths, which includ situations in whare there is no attending physician to sign the death certificate, sudden or unexpected deaths, or cases involving alcohol or other drugs of abuse. The Clinton County Coroner's Office strives to investigate all deaths in a professional manner. Our motto is "We represent the living but speak for the dead." In Latin that is "Civitatem Servamus Mortes Loquimur."

What we do:
  •Investigate deaths to determine Cause and Manner of Death.
  •The Coroner serves all Clinton County police agencies.
  •Deaths caused by diseases that may be public health threats.


At the Death Scene

There is more than meets the eye at a death scene.

What may appear to be a natural death may actually be criminal. An apparent suicide may actually be an accidental death, and a natural death may reveal serious implications for survivors. Because of criminal and public health implications, your coroner must treat every death carefully.

Upon first learning that a person in the county has died from violence, casualty, unusual circumstances, suspicious activity or while in apparently good health, the coroner will notify a local law enforcement agency. Together, they investigate the scene. Often, the coroner must restrict access to the death scene in order to properly carry out the investigation. Indiana's county coroner's do not need the family's permission to conduct an investigation, but do hasten to complete their investigations so that the family may grieve in peace.

Do Not Disturb

Proper documentation of the death scene is crucial to the coroner investigation. Knowingly failing to notify the coroner or a law enforcement agency in the case of death that qualifies as a coroner's investigation is a Class B infraction punishable by a fine up to $1000 plus court costs. Moving a body under these conditions is a Class F felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

For Survivors

emotions overflow at a death scene.

The situation is tense, uncomfortable, and demanding. The coroner's role is to issue a swift and accurate determination of the cause and manner of death. In his or her efforts to do this a coroner must sometimes restrict access to the scene. Often, survivors direct their anger at investigative personnel when in reality the tension of the situation is at the root of their stress. Cooperation with the coroner at the death scene allows him or her to document evidence which may lead to benefits through governmental agencies or insurance coverage.

As the investigation proceeds, your coroner has powers usually reserved for officers of the court: issuing subpoenas, authorizing autopsies or calling for toxicological examinations of the body. Your coroner's investigation provides answers which help survivors cope with their loss.

Information the coroner is obligated to release

  1. Name, age, race and address of the deceased
  2. Address where the body was found
  3. Name of agency to which death was reported
  4. Name of the person reporting death
  5. Name of public official or government employee present at the death scene
  6. Name of person certifying death
  7. Limited information regarding an autopsy: date, person who performed autopsy, where performed, conclusion as to probable cause, probable manner, probable mechanism
  8. Location to which body was removed
  9. Records required under IC 36-2-14-5 and IC 36-2-14-10

Coroner Investigation

Coroners investigate suspicious, unusual or unnatural deaths.
  1. Homicides
  2. Suicides
  3. Accidents
  4. Death by natural causes
  5. Inmate deaths or cases in which cause of death originated while deceased was incarcerated
  6. Deaths caused by diseases that may be public health threats
  7. Deaths of persons whose bodies are to be cremated, buried at sea, transported out of state or otherwise unavailable for pathological study
  8. Deaths of transplant surgery donors that are the result of some type of trauma
The vast majority of coroner investigations are natural deaths, including situations in which there is no attending physician to sign the death certificate, sudden or unexpected deaths or cases involving alcohol or other drugs of abuse.

Coroner Duties

Identification of the deceased
may be as easy as having a family member at the scene or as difficult as having only a few bones to work with and having to rely on various experts.

Determination of cause of death
the final factor or event that happened to the deceased, or the cascade of events, called the "mechanism" which lead to the cause of death.

Determination of manner of death
homicide, suicide, accident, natural, undetermined.

The coroner may order an autopsy, which must be done by a board certified pathologist. The coroner is responsible for all personal property of the deceased. Property is to be protected until a legal next of kin is identified. If no heir is forthcoming, the material possessions are turned over to the County Treasurer and the Sheriff for sale and distribution to the county general fund.

Vision

We provide compassionate, respectful, and efficient services in determining the cause and manner of death in unusual circumstances.

Values - ICARE
Integrity

We will act with high moral principles. We will also adhere to the highest professional standards and maintain the trust and confidence of all who we serve.

Commitment

We will work diligently to serve all families. We are driven by an earnest belief to fulfill our responsibilities.

Advocacy

We will identify any concerns or interests of the family.

Respect

We will treat all those we serve and with whom we work with dignity and respect. Show respect to earn it.

Excellence

We strive for the highest and continuous improvement. We are thoughtful, leaders, and accountable for our actions.


Mission

The Coroner's Office serves all those who die in Clinton County, their families and others associated agencies in the investigation of unusual and unexplained deaths, resulting in timely and accurate completion of the Coroner's Verdict and death certificates.

For all decedent affairs, the office provides:

  1. Public Education
  2. Support
  3. Compassion
  4. Confidentiality

Understanding Tissue and Organ Donation

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult things you will face. But during this time, you can make a decision that offers your family member the opportunity to give a final gift to someone else in need. This decision may also offer you and your family some comfort in knowing that another person's life was saved by this special gift.

You and your family might be contacted by a member of the Indiana Donor Services and asked to consider donation as a possible last act for your loved one. Depending on your situation, you may be offered the option to consent to the donation of various organs, tissues, eyes or corneas.

Please be assured that:
  1. Organ and tissue/eye donation is, in essence, a gift of life. Each tissue is extremely valuable to the recipient.
  2. The donation will not delay the funeral or memorial services and will still allow for open casket viewing if desired.
  3. Your family will not incur any additional medical costs because of donation.

Every year, families are offered the opportunity to give the gift of life through donation. We understand the decision to donate is a difficult and personal choice, one which often needs to be made at a time when the family is experiencing a traumatic loss. We encourage you to discuss this topic with your family and loved ones.

Share your life.

Every year, thousands of people are given a second chance at life through transplantation.

These individuals would not be alive today without the generosity of families who have made this life-giving decision.

You can save and enhance the lives of up to fifty people by donating your organs and tissues for transplantation.

People suffering from heart disease can start living healthier lives with a heart transplant.

Patients with kidney failure can eliminate the need for dialysis by receiving a new kidney. A blind person can see again with a cornea transplant.

Not only is donation beneficial for recipients, it also helps the donor family in their time of loss. Donation providies the family with an understanding that something positive was able to come from their personal tragedy.

Share your decision.

The most important step in becoming a donor is to discuss your wishes with your family.

Even though you may have signed your driver's license, donor card or indicated your wishes at a Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) branch, you must talk to your family about your decision to donate.

At the time of death, your family will be approached regarding organ and tissue donation. Knowing your wishes to donate will make their decision to give consent easier.

We encourage you to take time now to discuss your wishes with your family. A simple five minute conversation can make the difference between life and death for those waiting for a transplant.

FAQs on Death Investigation


Q: Why is the Coroner involved in the death of my loved one?

A: The following is a list of deaths in which the Coroner's Office is contacted:
  1. Sudden death of a healthy child.
  2. Death occurring within 24 hours of admission at a hospital or health care facility
  3. Physician unable to state cause of death, after careful review of medical chart, or decendent does not have a physician
  4. Known or suspected homicide
  5. Known or suspected suicide
  6. Related to or following known suspected self-induced or criminal abortion
  7. Following an accident to injury primary or contributory, either old or recent
  8. Drowning, fire, exposure, acute alcoholism, drug addiction, strangulation, aspiration or malnutrition
  9. Accidental poisoning (food, chemical, drug, therapeutic agents)
  10. Occupational dsease or occupational hazards
  11. Known or suspect contagious disease constituting a public hazard, excluding A.I.D.S.
  12. All deaths where patient is under anesthetic
  13. Incarceration
  14. All deaths of unidentified persons

* The Coroner will determine if the death will be investigated or if the death certificate can be routinely signed by the attending physician.

Q: Is an autopsy always performed?

A: Not always. If the death is a "Natural Death" and cause of death can be determined by past medical history or from an external exam, the Coroner will normally not perform an autopsy.

Q: Why are autopsies performed?

A: There are a number of reasons autopsies are performed. However, the basic reason is to determine the medical cause of death. The primary reason is to gather evidence for presentation in a court of law.

Q: Is there a charge for these services?

A: No, not if performed by our office

Q: Can I come see him/her?

A: Due to legal and health issues, visitation of the loved one is done only at the funeral home after the body is properly prepared.

Q: What about funeral arrangemnets?

A: Contact the funeral director of your choice as soon as possible and advise him/her of what has transpired. Your funeral director will then coordinate further arrangements with the Coroner and help you begin the preparations for your loved one's funeral.

Q: How long does the office take to close its cases?

A: Most cases that are investigated by the Coroner's Office are reviewed and closed within 14-21 days. If a case is pending toxicology, a cause and manner of death could take up to 8 weeks for final results.

FAQs on Organ Donation


Q: Who can be an organ or tissue donor?

A: Most anyone from birth to age 75 and beyond can be a donor.

Q: What can I donate?

A: As an organ donor you can donate heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestine, and pancreas. As a tissue donor you can donate corneas, skin, bone, and heart valves.

Q: Is there a need for organ and tissue donors?

A: Yes. Every day up to 8 people die due to a shortage of donated organs. Another man, woman, or child is added to the transplant waiting list every 18 minutes

Q: Does my religion support donation?

A: All major religions fully support organ and tissue donation. If you have a specific question contact your religious leader.

Q: Will my family have to pay additional fees if I am a donor?

A: No. Once your family gives consent for donation, all costs related to the donation and recovery of organs will be paid by Indiana Organ Procurement Organization.

Q: Will my donation affect my funeral arrangements?

A: No. The appearance of your body will not be altered. A highly skilled team of transplant surgeons will recover the organs in a manner that will allow your family to carry out normal funeral arrangements.

A: How are organs distributed to patients waiting for a transplant?

A: Each patient waiting for a transplant is listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This agency is responsible for ensuring that the donated organs are distributed equitably and fairly. When a donor is identified, the donor's blood type, tissue type, body weight and size are matched against the list of patients currently waiting for a transplant. In addition, the recipient's severity of illness and time on the waiting list are factored into the matching process.

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