WHERE IS MY LOVED ONE TAKEN?
In most cases, the deceased is taken to the morgue used by the County, located at AnMed Health in Anderson, South Carolina. If an autopsy is required, it is performed by a contracted board certified forensic pathologists at AnMed Health Center. When the Coroners Office has completed all necessary procedures, the deceased is officially 'released,' at which time the funeral home with which the family has made arrangements is authorized to retrieve the body.
In certain circumstances and at the discretion of the Coroner Investigator, the deceased may be released directly to a funeral home or mortuary of the family’s choice. The Anderson County Coroners Office does not recommend specific funeral homes or mortuaries, this decision rest entirely with the family or next-of-kin of the decedent.
WHY IS THE CORONER INVOLVED?
State law requires the Coroners Office to be notified when a death occurs under certain circumstances. The Coroner and/or Deputy Coroners perform an investigation and arrives at the cause and manner of death, and either complete or arrange the completion of the death certificate. Occasionally, more investigation is required, in which case a pending classification is used on the death certificate to allow funeral arrangements to be made in a timely manner.
AM I REQUIRED TO IDENTIFY THE BODY?
Identity of the deceased is usually determined through methods other than visual identification by family or acquaintances, and a visual ID is not required. Only in very rare cases are such identifications required. Should it become necessary for you to come in or bring other records or x-rays, you will be contacted.
WHAT SHOULD I DO RIGHT NOW?
As soon as possible, you should select and communicate with representatives from a funeral home of your choice. These professionals are aware of the difficulties you are experiencing and the stresses that you are under, and will assist you with arrangements. The funeral home will notify the Coroner's Office that they are handling your arrangements, and we work closely with them to assure proper transfer of remains.
Our office does not select funeral homes nor do we make funeral arrangements. In the event someone is making arrangements for the family, the Coroners Office must be provided with written authorization to release the deceased, signed by the legal next-of-kin.
IS VIEWING ALLOWED?
The Coroner's Office strongly discourages viewing prior to the deceased being released to a funeral home. While in the custody of the Coroner's Office, it is imperative that the proper medicolegal procedures be followed without interruption and to their completion. Also the present facility does not facilitate family viewing.
HOW WILL I GET MY LOVED ONE'S PERSONAL POSSESSIONS BACK?
Personal effects that are on the body in a coroner's case are the jurisdiction of the Coroner's Office, while other personal effects that may be collected are part of the evidence collection of the involved law enforcement agency (e.g. City Police Department; Sheriff's Office). All coroner case personal effects are accounted for, and are released to the family as soon as possible; there are specific chain-of-custody procedures for the release of valuables. Occasionally clothing will need to be stored as evidence or disposed of if it presents a biohazard.
Decedent medications are secured and destroyed by the Coroner Investigator. Medications and/or Illicit Drug Paraphernalia can not be returned to family.
HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF THE DEATH CERTIFICATE?
A death certificate can be obtained through your funeral home or from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control - Department of Vital Records. The Anderson County Coroners Office does not issue death certificates.
WILL AN AUTOPSY BE PERFORMED?
The Coroner and/or Deputy Coroner will decide if an autopsy is necessary, however approximately 75% of deaths we investigate do not require one. We may not perform an autopsy if the cause of death can be determined from other criteria, and is of “natural causes.” If the deceased has been under the care of a physician accessing the medical history, and no suspicion of foul play exists, an autopsy may be waived.
Autopsies are performed when additional investigation is needed to establish the cause and manner of death; autopsies are ALWAYS performed in suspected homicides. A board certified forensic pathologist conducts all autopsies. Each case is unique and handled respectfully on an individual basis. Family consent is not required for an autopsy to be performed; it is the authority of the coroner—possibly in consultation with a pathologist—to order an autopsy.
WHAT IS AN AUTOPSY?
An autopsy is a post-mortem medical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of the body in order to determine or assist in determining the cause and manner of a person's death; it can also provide information on the presence of diseases or injuries that may have been contributing mortality factors.
WILL AN AUTOPSY PREVENT VIEWING AT A FUNERAL?
No. Although incisions are made, they are placed so that they will not be seen; they are also very carefully closed after the procedure just as in surgical procedures. At all times, the decedent is treated with the utmost respect.
HOW LONG BEFORE MY LOVED ONE IS RELEASED FROM THE CORONER'S OFFICE?
Each case is distinct, but under normal circumstances a case not involving autopsy will result in release within 24 hours or less. If an autopsy is required, the investigation may take considerably longer, particularly if identification of the individual is an issue. You may contact the Coroner's Office at (864) 260-4057 to inquire about the status of your case.
CAN I SEE A COPY OF THE AUTOPSY OR CORONER REPORT?
Yes. You can call the Coroner's Office at (864) 260-4057 to inquire when a report will be ready. A brief written request to the Coroner's Office (Anderson County Coroner's Office; PO Box 8002; Anderson, SC 29622) is required to receive a report.
WHAT IF I CAN'T AFFORD FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS?
If your loved one did not have burial funds, the next-of-kin may ask for assistance in government and private sources. Your funeral home can provide you that information.
WHAT ABOUT MILITARY BENEFITS?
People who served in the Armed Forces may be entitled to veterans benefits. Seek more information from the Veterans Administration (VA) at www.cem.va.gov. Your funeral home will also have that information.
Other frequently asked questions should be referred to the proper agencies as follows:
Local Law Enforcement - custody of weapons involved with deaths
South Carolina Funeral Directors Association - regulations governing burials, cremations, and embalming
WILL I BE CHARGED FOR OTHER CORONER SERVICES?
No. The Anderson County Coroners Office is considered a public entity and does not charge for services.
WHAT ABOUT TISSUE / ORGAN DONATION?
Life Point is the designated Tissue/Organ Procurement Organization for South Carolina. We will make an effort to provide information to you about tissue/organ donations and will work diligently with all Tissue/Organ Procurement Organizations. If you are interested in donation, you may call Life Point at 1-800-462-0755 or visit their website at www.lifepoint-sc.org