What does the Coroner's Office do?
The Modoc County Coroner's Office is the agency responsible for investigating reportable deaths in Modoc County. The office performs medico-legal investigations for legal and public health purposes under the authority of state law. By far, the largest percentages of deaths in the county are natural deaths. Just because the Coroner investigates a death does not mean there is a belief that a crime has been committed. It is the Coroner's legal responsibility to identify the deceased, to notify the next-of-kin or legal representative, and to protect the estate of the deceased until it can be turned over to the legal heirs.
Why is the Coroner in a Sheriff's Office uniform?
In Modoc County, as in most counties in the state, the sheriff is also the coroner, therefore, responsible for investigating both criminal and coroner matters. All Modoc County Sheriff's Deputies are also cross designated as Deputy Coroners.
Why has the body been taken away?
There are many reasons why a loved one may be taken by the Coroner's Office, including but not limited to: a private physician cannot sign the death certificate; the deceased did not have a physician or it has been too long since the last visit; the death was possibly due to accident, suicide, homicide or an unknown cause, or the person died alone.
Where will my relative/friend be taken?
He/she will be taken to the Coroner's contract mortuary which is Kerr Mortuary in Alturas.
What about personal property?
The Deputy Coroner may need to take personal property until it can be released to the legal next-of-kin or representative. Medication and other evidence may be taken that will be examined during the investigation. Probate laws are clear as to who has a right to a person's estate. Absent a will or durable power of attorney, the line of succession is spouse, child, parent, and then sibling. Evidence other than medication will be returned at the conclusion of the investigation. Personal property may be picked up from the Coroner's Office during normal business hours with an appointment. To schedule an appointment please contact the Sheriff's Evidence Technician at (530) 233-4416.
Is viewing allowed?
No. The Coroner's Office does not have the capability to allow for viewing of the body. Family should make arrangements with a funeral home or mortuary for viewing at their facility after the Coroner has been notified.
Will an autopsy be performed?
It is the legal duty of the Coroner to determine the cause of death. Autopsies are not always necessary. The Coroner's Pathologist generally makes the determination after a review of all supporting records whether an autopsy is needed to establish the cause of death. It is generally not something that can be determined by the Deputy Coroner at the scene.
Is there a fee for Coroner Services?
The Modoc County Coroner's Office does not charge a fee.
How do I get a Death Certificate?
Some investigations can be completed in a matter of a few days. Others may take several weeks to complete, because of detailed laboratory testing which cannot be rushed if an accurate cause of death is to be determined. In those instances, a "pending" death certificate is issued so as not to interfere with funeral arrangements, then amended when a cause of death is known. The funeral home or mortuary of your choice can assist you with getting certified copies of death certificates.
How can I get a copy of the Coroner Report?
A complete Coroner Report includes the scene investigation prepared by the deputy, in some cases the autopsy report prepared by the pathologist, and the toxicology report prepared by the laboratory. Once the case is completed, it is ready to be released, typically about 4-6 weeks after death. Coroner Reports are public information. One free copy is provided to the immediate next-of-kin.