About the Coroners Office
The Coroner is a county official who is elected to serve a four year term. The Coroner has jurisdiction over all deaths investigated by his office.
Responsibilities of the Coroners Office
The Chesterfield County Coroner's main duty is to determine the manner of death of every fatality in Chesterfield County. The Coroner must investigate each casualty and determine the circumstances whether it be suspicious, violent, or sudden. Certain deaths occurring from natural causes must also be investigated, along with deaths occurring less than 24 hours after admit to a hospital or emergency room. The Coroner signs death certificates, issues burial removal permits, issues cremation permits, and conducts inquests.
Process of Investigation
The Coroner must ensure that the scene of death and all evidence is preserved. The Coroner must determine through the investigation whether the death was natural, accidental, homicidal, suicidal, or of undetermined causes. The body must be examined and the surroundings of the scene are considered. The Coroner is the Chief Investigating Officer and coordinates the investigation involving multiple investigative agencies including Law Enforcement. Experts from anthropology, toxicology, odontology, entomology, trace evidence collection, and other forensic specialties may assist in the process. The Coroner determines when an autopsy is performed and in many cases must witness the autopsy. It is the Coroners responsibility to ensure that all personal belongings of the decedent are protected and returned to the family. The Coroner is responsible for notifying the relatives and/or loved ones of the unfortunate death and does this in person when at all possible. After the investigation the body of the deceased will be released for the family to make appropriate arrangements. Each member of the Coroners Office makes certain that this process be accomplished showing courtesy and sympathy to the loved ones throughout its entirety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. It is necessary for me to come to the Coroners Office to identify the body?
A. No, in a majority of the cases, visual identification is not necessary to positively identify the deceased.
Q. Why is an autopsy performed?
A. The Coroner authorizes an autopsy when one is needed to establish the cause and manner of death. Usually an autopsy is not needed when the death is clearly from natural causes. Should an autopsy be necessary, the Coroner will certify a death certificate soon after the examination is complete.
Q. Will autopsy reports be available?
A. Yes, the next of kin may obtain a copy by written request. This document and other Coroner records will be available after completion of the death investigation.
Q. Will there be a charge for the Coroner service?
Q. Where can I obtain a death certificate?
A .Death certificates are filed with the Chesterfield County Health Department. Should you require certified copies, they can be ordered through the presiding funeral home or they can be purchased from the Chesterfield County Health Department.
Q. Can I donate my relative's organs and tissue?
A. South Carolina has a law that provides an opportunity for the next of kin to donate organs and tissues. Donation can dramatically improve, even save the lives of others. We are glad to assist you by contacting the appropriate agency for you so they can explain to you all options and benefits of donating. If you prefer, you may call the American Red Cross ;at 1-800-922-5986.