Reportable Deaths

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.