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Roles of our Office

The Mesa County Coroner’s Office is charged with investigating certain categories of deaths that could potentially be from violence among many others.

  • Due to drugs or toxins
  • Deaths that are sudden and unexpected
  • Hospital deaths where the individual died less than 24 hours after admission to the hospital and in-custody deaths.
  • Not all deaths in the county fall under the jurisdiction of the Mesa County Coroner’s Office.
    • An older person who has a significant natural disease process and dies after an extended stay in a hospital would not be considered a case the Coroner’s Office would investigate.
  • The Coroner’s Office acts independently from law enforcement and is it’s “own office” when they do their investigations.
  • Office gains knowledge of each death through
    • Scene investigation,
    • Interviews with family and witnesses,
    • Medical record review and
    • Possibly autopsy examination.
Logo for Coroner Office - Concept of Legal Justice in Medicine

Responsibilities of our Office

  • The elected Coroner is expected to maintain a competent staff of medicolegal death investigators
  • Person responsible for ensuring the death investigations follow national standards.
  • The Coroner is essentially the case coordinator in the death investigation
    • They ultimately determine the cause and manner of death and if an autopsy needs to be performed.
  • Although it is assumed the Coroner should have some medical knowledge and many feel the Coroner should be a physician, this is not considered to be a requirement to be Mesa County Coroner.
  • The Coroner’s Office is the entity that ultimately determines the cause and manner of death in the cases they have involvement.
  • Responsibilities of the Coroner’s Office.
    • Notifying the next of kin of their loved one’s death.
    • Helping with the disposition the deceased individual.
    • Signing the death certificate on many of the deaths they investigate.
    • Determining the disposition of the body after the examination is complete.
  • The Mesa County Coroner’s Office is responsible for the investigation of sudden, unexpected deaths that occur within Mesa County.
  • Not all deaths in the county fall under the jurisdiction of the Coroner’s Office but some examples of those deaths that are investigated.
    • Anyone that dies from a violent means.
    • Death as a result of the use of a drug or toxin.
    • Death due to complication of a medical procedure.
    • Unexpected death at home.
    • Death after being hospitalized for less than 24 hours.
  • The Mesa County Coroner is the decision-maker in determining if an autopsy needs to be performed and also determining the cause and manner of death.

Services provided by our Office

  • Ensuring the death certificates are signed appropriately for the deaths they investigate.
    • Signing the death certificate themselves.
    • Consulting with the decedent’s physician to assist them in the most logical way to sign the certificate.
    • A certain level of medical knowledge is expected by the Mesa County Coroners’ Office
      • when signing the certificates and
      • when discussing the deaths with physicians, physician office staff and the families of the deceased.
  • Each death investigated by the Coroner’s Office should have a report detailing the investigators findings and conclusions.
  • Publishing annual reports, special suicide reports and drug-related death reports.
    • Types of reports are important for statistical analyses, research and for public information use.
  • The performance of autopsies is probably one of the most important aspects of any Coroner’s Office.
    • It is the offices responsibility to ensure the autopsies are conducted in a quality manner and follow all the national standards with timely completion of autopsy results and autopsy reports.
  • Autopsies are conducted locally in Mesa County.
    • Using local Mesa County citizens as employees.
    • Using local facilities for the performance of autopsies and laboratory studies.
    • Using local board-certified pathologists.