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Washington, IN 47501
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    (812) 254-4650
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In This Department

County Coroner



Dr. Stephen Cullen Stephen Cullen, Coroner


Duties of the coroner include:

1. IDENTIFICATION of the deceased;
2. Determination of the CAUSE of death; and
3. Determination of the MANNER of death.





IDENTIFICATION
may be as easy as having a family member at the scene when you get there or as difficult as having only a few bones to work with and having to utilize one of the many experts available to your coroner.

CAUSE of death is the final factor or event that happened to the deceased. If this had not happened, the individual would still be alive. This may be a cascade of factors or events, one following the other and this will be reflected on the death certificate that your coroner files with the county health department.

As an example:

A. asphyxia (inability to breathe), due to
B. chest compression, due to
C. settling of automobile, due to
D. failure of jacking apparatus.

This group of factors is referred to as the mechanism, which lead to the asphyxia, which is the cause of death.

MANNER of death is a descriptive grouping. It is, however, a firmly set, universally accepted acknowledgement of how people die. These possibilities are:

A. homicide;
B. suicide;
C. accident;
D. natural; and
E. undetermined.

Coroners investigate:

  • Homicides;
  • Suicides;
  • Crashes;
  • Death by natural causes;
  • Inmate deaths or cases in which cause of death originated while deceased was incarcerated;
  • Deaths caused by diseases that may be public health threats;
  • Deaths of people whose bodies are to be cremated, buried at sea, transported out of state or otherwise unavailable for pathological study; and
  • 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.