The Skagit County Coroner’s Office is an independent agency who serves the residents of Skagit County by investigating the facts and circumstances concerning the deaths of those who have died suddenly, violently, or unexpectedly while in apparent good health within the geographic boundaries of the county. The goal of this office is to serve the citizens of Skagit County with the highest degree of compassion, professionalism, and integrity regarding those who have died within Skagit County.
The Skagit County Coroner’s Office assumes jurisdiction on certain categories of deaths that occur within the geographical boundaries of the county. This is regardless of whether the decedent is a resident of the county. Those Skagit County residents who die in another county do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Skagit County Coroner. Only the Coroner can certify a death that is not considered to be natural (accident, suicide, homicide, or undetermined).
In accordance with the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 68.50), the following categories of deaths fall under the Coroner’s jurisdiction:
- Sudden death of an apparent healthy person with no known or significant medical history
- Suspected natural deaths in which there is no current physician to certify the death
- Deaths in which there are abuse or neglect concerns (Adult Protective Services or Child Protective Services involvement)
- Violent or suspicious circumstances
- Traffic-related deaths
- All child deaths
- All premature births and still births over 20 weeks gestation
- All accidental deaths (falls, industrial, recreational)
- Deaths attributed to drug overdose or drug-related
- Deaths that occur while in legal/court/jail/prison custody
- Deaths due to unforeseen complications of therapy, surgery, or diagnostic procedures
- Deaths due to an injury or fracture that either was directly or contributory to decline to death, this includes those injuries that occurred years earlier.
- Deaths due to contagious disease that may be a public health hazard
- Indigent or unclaimed bodies
The role of the Coroner in such deaths is to investigate the facts and circumstances concerning the death for the purpose of determining the cause and manner of death. An autopsy may be required depending upon the circumstances of the death. Not all deaths that occur in the county are required to be reported to the office, nor are all deaths where jurisdiction is assumed require an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death. An autopsy is performed only when it is necessary to determine or confirm the cause of death, document injury, or when required by state law.
The Skagit County Coroner’s Office has an important public health role in bringing causes and manners of deaths to the attention of the public and many involved agencies. The Coroner’s Office works with community partners to adopt a proactive approach to reducing preventable deaths such as drug-related deaths as well as suicides.