Centre County Coroner
The responsibilities of the Centre County Coroner's Office are complex and multifaceted. By State law it is the responsibility of the Coroner's Office to investigate and determine the circumstance, manner, and cause of deaths within its jurisdiction. Those deaths include suicide, accident, suspected homicide, or natural death where no physician is in attendance or when the physician is unwilling or legally prohibited from signing the death certificate. In addition, other certain causes of death are mandated to be investigated by the Coroner's Office.
Manner and Cause of Death inquiries may require review of medical records and family member or witness interviews. This office also performs autopsies, collecting evidence and bodily fluid and tissue for toxicology testing and microscopic study. Upon completion of the tests, the Coroner's Office analyzes the results to determine the cause of death, thereby completing the death certificate. Evidence collected both at the death scene and during autopsy is also used for criminal prosecution and this office is frequently called upon to testify in court as to the result of the examinations. The Coroner's Office is constantly on alert for deaths which may pose a public health threat from communicable disease or through product liability.
The responsibility of this office also includes identifying decedents which may be as simple as matching physical characteristics to a driver license or other identification documents or more complex methods involving fingerprints, dental records, body x-rays or DNA testing.
Notification of the decedent's next of kin and securing the personal property of the decedent are additional responsibilities of the Centre County Coroner's Office. Under certain circumstances the office is also responsible for removal and transportation of the decedent to the county morgue. We also obtain information from family, friends, and public safety personnel regarding the terminal episode. The Centre County Coroner's Office works closely with numerous medical and law enforcement agencies to understand how individuals lost their lives and seek justice to bring closure to family and loved ones.