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We at the Weld County Coroner’s Office extend our deepest sympathy to you during this difficult time. We hope that the information below will assist you by providing answers to commonly asked questions.

What does the Coroner do?
  • "Views" the body: If the coroner is notified of a death requiring investigation, he will proceed to the scene.
  • Scene: In deaths due to unnatural causes, (homicide, suicide accidental or undetermined), the coroner will go directly to the scene of the death and examine the body before it is moved. An assessment of the scene may be invaluable in determining the cause and manner of death.
  • Examination: A through examination, either at the scene or in the morgue, is performed to document the presence (or absence) of external evidence of injury. Blood samples may be drawn for toxicological studies, x-rays taken, or other tests performed.
  • Questions: The coroner has to consider the following questions:
    • The identity of the deceased.
    • The apparent cause of death.
    • The apparent manner of death, i.e. natural causes or unnatural causes. If the latter was death due to homicide, suicide, accident or undetermined causes.
    • The apparent time of death.
    • How extensive an examination is needed.
  • Inquiry: Inquiry is made into the person's identity state of health or medical history, and the circumstances and events surrounding the death. If the death was witnessed, the signs and symptoms are recorded. If unwitnessed, when was the person last seen alive ? What was he doing when his life was interrupted?
  • Autopsy: Some deaths, such as homicides, are always autopsied. Deaths due to natural causes which are judged to be of no medical-legal importance, may be signed out without autopsy. Sudden unexplained deaths of healthy children and adults are normally autopsied. Deaths due to suicides and accidents may be autopsied depending on circumstances, such as scene and psychological investigation and evidence. While no one interacts with the coroner by choice, this official can make a great deal of difference when a family is faced with a death. A knowledgeable, compassionate coroner can be one of the family's primary supports.

What is the Coroner's Jurisdiction?

The Office of the Coroner was established by the Colorado Constitution and the coroner's jurisdiction is established by law. In Weld County, Colorado, the coroner must be notified of the following types of deaths:

  1. Where no physician is in attendance, or where though in attendance, the physician is unable (or unwilling) to certify the cause of death.
  2. All cases in which the attending physician has not been in actual attendance within 30 days prior to death.
  3. All cases in which trauma may be associated with the death (i.e., falls, traffic accidents industrial accidents.)
  4. Any patient who has sustained a fracture; no matter how long ago
  5. Deaths by poison or suspected poisoning, chemicals or bacteria, industrial hazardous materials, or radiation.
  6. Known or suspected suicide.
  7. Deaths where the deceased has a contagious disease.
  8. Deaths due to self-induced or unexplained abortion.
  9. All operating room deaths and deaths which occurring during a medical procedure.
  10. All unexplained deaths due to suspicious circumstances.
  11. Deaths which occur within 24 hours of admission

Why is a body brought to the Coroner’s office?

The remains of deceased persons are brought to the Coroner’s Office because of the necessary investigation of death in cases described above, the identity of the deceased or next-of-kin is unknown, or the selection of a funeral home is pending.

Does the Coroner need permission from the next-of-kin for an autopsy?

A Colorado law (CRS 30-10-606) provides the authority for the Coroner/Medical Examiner to perform an autopsy as part of an investigation.  We use the following guidelines:

  1. If the autopsy is deemed unnecessary for the investigation, it will not be performed.  By law, an autopsy cannot be performed by the Coroner/Medical Examiner solely for "medical curiosity". If the family or doctor would like a medical curiosity autopsy to be performed, it must be arranged by the family or by the doctor with the family’s permission, and be done by the Pathologist of your choice. You should be aware that the financial responsibility falls upon the requesting party and an autopsy can be quite expensive.

  2. If the Coroner/Medical Examiner deems it necessary to perform an autopsy as part of the investigation, the law grants us the ability to take jurisdiction of the body to perform the autopsy. There is no charge for an autopsy conducted under these circumstances.

  3. If you or your family should disagree with our decision to perform an autopsy in spite of the benefits and the questions it will answer, you must obtain a Court Order through your attorney to prevent the autopsy from taking place.  All legal financial obligations incurred are your responsibility.

  4. In the case of religious objection to autopsy, the Coroner will review the matter and determine whether it is absolutely necessary to perform an autopsy over the family's objections.

  5. If after careful review the Coroner determines an autopsy is required, the family may ask the court to intervene. These legal proceedings may take several days and will delay the release of the body to the funeral director. It is important for family members to inform the coroner’s office immediately if they have any objection to an autopsy since most begin as soon as the body arrives at the coroner’s office.


What is an autopsy and is there a charge?

An autopsy is a medical examination of the dead person by a forensic pathologist in order to determine the cause and manner of death. Further, recovering evidence from the body may assist in a criminal or civil legal action.

A record is made of the findings of the autopsy including microscopic and toxicological testing results.

No, The Weld County Coroner/Medical Examiner does not assess any fees, other than those for processing requested autopsy reports.

What if I disagree with the Coroner/Medical Examiner’s decision regarding the necessity of autopsy?

A Colorado law (CRS 30-10-606) provides the authority for the Coroner/Medical Examiner to perform an autopsy as part of an investigation.  We use the following guidelines:

  1. If the autopsy is deemed unnecessary for the investigation, it will not be performed.  By law, an autopsy cannot be performed by the Coroner/Medical Examiner solely for "medical curiosity". If the family or doctor would like a medical curiosity autopsy to be performed, it must be arranged by the family or by the doctor with the family’s permission, and be done by the Pathologist of your choice. You should be aware that the financial responsibility falls upon the requesting party and an autopsy can be quite expensive.

  2. If the Coroner/Medical Examiner deems it necessary to perform an autopsy as part of the investigation, the law grants us the ability to take jurisdiction of the body to perform the autopsy. There is no charge for an autopsy conducted under these circumstances.

  3. If you or your family should disagree with our decision to perform an autopsy in spite of the benefits and the questions it will answer, you must obtain a Court Order through your attorney to prevent the autopsy from taking place.  All legal financial obligations incurred are your responsibility.

  4. In the case of religious objection to autopsy, the Coroner will review the matter and determine whether it is absolutely necessary to perform an autopsy over the family's objections.

  5. If after careful review the Coroner determines an autopsy is required, the family may ask the court to intervene. These legal proceedings may take several days and will delay the release of the body to the funeral director. It is important for family members to inform the coroner’s office immediately if they have any objection to an autopsy since most begin as soon as the body arrives at the coroner’s office.


How long does autopsy take, and when will the body be released?

Routinely, autopsies are conducted as quickly as possible often within 48-hours. Following autopsy, the body is releasable to a funeral director.

The next-of-kin should select and notify a funeral director who, in turn, will arrange to secure a written release from the next-of-kin, arrange transportation for the deceased to the funeral home and obtain the necessary documents for burial or cremation.

Can I obtain a copy of the autopsy report?

Yes. You may obtain a copy by submitting a written request. Send your request to the Weld County Coroner’s Office, 905 10th Ave, Greeley, Colorado, 80631. You may fax a request to 970-392-4546. Please include the decedent’s name as well as your name, address and relationship. The legal next-of-kin (or person acting on their behalf) is permitted a courtesy copy of the autopsy report. All other persons must pre-pay at the rate of $.25 per page.

How can a funeral director be selected?

All personal property is released with the body to the funeral home to be given back to the family following an autopsy.  The exceptions are as follows:

  1. In suicides, if a weapon is involved, separate arrangements for its release must be made through the Coroner/Medical Examiner.
  2. If a crime was committed by or against the decedent (homicide), all clothing and personal effects are generally retained as evidence by the investigating law enforcement agency.
  3. In all cases, the decedent’s Driver’s License or similar photo ID is taken by the Coroner/Medical Examiner as means to make a positive identification.  The license not only contains the photograph of the decedent, but the registration number to access the decedent’s fingerprint information.  The license is property of the State and was issued to, and for use only by, the decedent.  Therefore, it is retained as a permanent part of the investigative file.  A color copy can be made and sent to the family at their request.
How can the personal effects and clothing of the deceased be obtained?

The death certificate will be prepared within 10 days after the date of death. If the cause of death is not immediately available, then a "pending" death certificate is issued to be followed by an “amended” death certificate listing the final cause of death.

When and how can I obtain the death certificate?

The death certificate will be prepared within 10 days after the date of death. If the cause of death is not immediately available, then a "pending" death certificate is issued to be followed by an “amended” death certificate listing the final cause of death.

The "pending" certificate will allow the family to begin processing of the estate. A copy of the death certificate is available by contacting your funeral home or the Office of Vital Records, an office of the Weld County Health Department.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Office of the Coroner

915 10th Street
Greeley, CO 80632
(3rd Floor) Rm. 325

Mailing Address:
PO Box 758
Greeley, CO 80631-0758

Phone: (970) 400-4990
Fax: (970) 392-4546

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
9:00 a.m. - 5 :00 p.m.
Office Hours - Not closed for lunch


Forms

Information Request Form

Comment or Concern Form


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