In Yuba County, the Coroner’s Office is combined with the Sheriff’s Department. Each Patrol Deputy is trained as a Deputy Coroner. Patrol personnel carry out the duties and responsibilities of the Coroner. The Coroner is responsible for determining the cause of death. An administrative sergeant is assigned as the Chief Deputy Coroner.
Frequently Asked Questions of the Coroner...
Why is a body brought to the coroner’s office?
The remains of deceased person’s are brought to the coroner’s office because California State Law requires the coroner to investigate deaths of persons dying from criminal violence, accidents, suicide, sudden unexpected deaths (without an attending physician), any suspicious or unusual circumstances, or when the decedent is unidentified.
What is an autopsy?
An autopsy is a systematic examination of the body by a pathologist for the purpose of determining the cause of death. A record is made of the findings including microscopic examination of tissues and toxicology laboratory results. These tests are conducted by contract services with various board certified pathologists and accredited forensic laboratories. The Yuba County Coroner’s Office also holds a contract with a local funeral home for body removals and temporary holding of deceased persons.
When is an autopsy performed?
Autopsies are not performed in all cases. In fact, a large percentage of cases reported to the Coroner’s Office do not require an autopsy. Cases where no “foul play” is suspected and evidence of natural death is present usually results in the Coroner determining an autopsy is unnecessary.
How and when is a body released by the Coroner?
Routinely, the Coroner releases the body to a licensed funeral director. The next of kin of the decedent is notified of the release by the Sheriff’s Department. Once the Coroner has released the decedent the next of kin should notify the funeral home of their choice so that transportation of the decedent can take place, and they can obtain the necessary documents for burial or cremation. This process generally requires at least two working days.
Can I get the results of the autopsy or find out the cause of death?
Absolutely. If the case is determined during the autopsy those results are immediately available once the pathology notes are made available to the Coroner. If no cause is immediately available, and microscopic and toxicology tests are requested by the pathologist, the cause of death is listed as “Pending.” In those instances the final cause of death may be unavailable for up to ten weeks. If you desire a copy of the Coroner’s report or the autopsy report you may obtain them through the Sheriff’s Department’s Records Unit.
Is there a charge for an autopsy?
There is no charge to the family for an autopsy.
What if I don’t want an autopsy?
Unfortunately, we must determine the cause of death. An autopsy is not needed in most natural deaths because enough information can be obtained through the attending physician to determine the cause. However, when such information is unavailable, or other circumstances exist that require an autopsy be performed, than an autopsy is necessary. If you have religious beliefs prohibiting an autopsy, and you possess a certified letter documenting the decedent’s wishes for no autopsy to be performed, please let the Coroner’s Office know immediately. The Coroner’s Office will make every effort possible to honor your wishes.
What about my loved one’s personal property?
The Coroner Investigator will secure all personal effects such as jewelry, wallets and other valuables from the decedent at the time of removal. These items are noted in the investigator’s report and secured at the Sheriff’s Department for safekeeping until they are released to the proper next of kin.
What if there is a will or trust?
The Coroner’s Office frequently encounters wills and trusts on autopsied cases. The will should be taken by the Coroner and reviewed by the Yuba County Counsel’s Office to ensure it is legitimate. Once this has occurred the will is returned to the executor of the estate to carry out the wishes of the deceased. The process generally takes one business day. If the will is found invalid the property seized from the estate by the Coroner is then released to the proper next of kin.
What if I cannot afford a mortuary or burial?
If the deceased’s estate does not have sufficient funds to cover the cost, and the next of kin is unable to assume financial responsibility, they may apply for assistance from the Yuba County Social Services Co-Burial Program. Please notify the Coroner and Social Services immediately if you believe you are eligible.
Can I view my loved one?
Under most circumstances, you may view your loved one prior to the autopsy procedure, but it will take place by appointment and under the Coroner’s direct supervision. These requirements are in place so the pathologist performing the autopsy can observe the body in the most undisturbed and unaltered state as possible.
When can I have the funeral?
The Coroner will complete the investigation as soon as possible and release the remains to the funeral home of the family’s choice. The funeral director will work closely with the Coroner’s Office and should be able to assist you with dates and times when the decedent will be released. The Yuba County Coroner’s Office is acutely aware of the compressed timelines associated with the death of a loved one and will make every effort to expedite the process. Every case is handled in a professional and compassionate manner.
The Yuba County Sheriff’s Department also has the responsibility of Public Administrator. The Public Administrator is responsible for administering the estates of decedents when there is no executor or when there is no other person qualified or willing to serve as administrator. This includes the probate process, which is handled through the Yuba County Counsel’s Office, as well as contracting with local attorneys that specialize in probate law. All aspects of the decedent’s estate are handled in this manner, including real estate transactions if necessary. This function is supervised by the Chief Deputy Coroner.