By law, the County Coroner is directed to administer and conduct investigation into all deaths which occur under questionable circumstances. By law, all deaths must be reported to the Coroner in the following circumstances  


Accidental Deaths


If the death occurs when in apparent good health or in any unusual or suspicious manner including


Asphyxiation by gagging on foreign substance, including food in airway; compression of the airway or chest by hand, material, or ligature; drowning; handling cyanide; exclusion of oxygen; carbon monoxide; and/or other gasses causing suffocation


Blows or other form of mechanical violence


Burns from fire, liquid, chemical, radiation or electricity


Cutting, stabbing, or gunshot wounds




Drug overdose from medication, chemical, or poison ingestion (actual or suspected)




Falls, including hip fractures or other injury


Stillborn or newborn infant death where there is recent or past traumatic event to the mother such as vehicular accident, drug ingestion, homicide attempt, or suicide attempt that may have precipitated delivery or had a detrimental effect to the newborn


Vehicular accidents, including auto, bus, train, motorcycle, bicycle, aircraft, watercraft, or snowmobile, including driver, passenger, or non-passenger deaths related to the accident


Weather related deaths, including lightning, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, or death due to high winds



Custodial Death


Deaths occurring while in jail, confinement, or any kind of judicial custody


Any Death while being pursued, apprehended, or taken into custody




Homicidal Death


By any means, suspected or known



Occupational Death


Instances in which the environment of present or past employment may have caused or contributed to death either by trauma or disease. This includes not only injuries received during employment or past employment such as fractures or burns, but also industrial infections, pneumoconiosis, present or past exposure to toxic waste or product (including nuclear products, asbestos, or coal dust), and caisson disease (bends)



Special Circumstances


Death of any Mentally/Developmentally Disabled (MRDD) client


Any maternal or infant death where there is suspicious or illegal interference by unethical or unqualified personnel, or self-induction


“Delayed Death” where the immediate cause of death is from natural disease, but an accident or injury may have occurred weeks, months, or even years before that initiated the sequence of events or medical conditions leading to the death



Sudden Death


If the death occurs when in apparent good health or in any suspicious or unusual manner including


DOA; any person pronounced dead on arrival at any hospital, emergency room, or doctors office shall be reported


Any infant or young child found dead, unless under medical care and clearly a natural death from a pre-existing condition. This includes all cases of Crib Death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)


All stillborn infants when there is actual or suspected trauma to the mother


Deaths under unknown circumstances


Any deaths where the identity of the deceased is unknown


Any sudden unexpected death on the street, at home, in a public place, or a place of employment


All deaths occurring within 24 hours of admission to the hospital unless the patient has been under the continuous care of a physician


Any death related to drug abuse, habitual use of drugs, or drug addiction



Suicidal Death


By any means, suspected or known



Therapeutic Death


Any death while under anesthesia, during the anesthetic induction, or during the post-anesthetic recovery period


Any death while undergoing any type of surgical procedure


Any death thought to be related to any surgical procedure


Death during or following any diagnostic procedure if thought to be related to the procedure or complications of the procedure


Death due to the administration of any drug, serum, vaccine, or any other substance given for diagnostic, therapeutic, or immunologic purpose




The Richland County Coroner’s Office encourages the reporting of any death where there is a doubt about whether or not the case should be reported. Many times after investigation the Coroner will release the case back to the jurisdiction or institution where the death certificate will be signed by the attending physician as a natural death.


By state law, only the Coroner can sign the death certificate if the manner of death is anything other than a natural death.


Last Updated: 05 JAN 2018
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