Coroner's Office

Coroner: Hayley Thompson

SKAGIT COUNTY CORONER AUTOPSY GUIDE

Autopsies will be performed by the Skagit County Coroner’s Office 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 limited resources and cannot routinely perform autopsies solely at the request of the family, attending physician, guardian or executor. The Coroner will work with the family to achieve a suitable outcome.

Below is an established guide which specifies the criteria for determining when an autopsy should be performed.

  1. All homicides and suspected homicides
  2. Suspected drug related deaths, illicit or prescription
  3. Hit and run accidents
  4. Pilots and crew in aircraft crashes, private and commercial
  5. Death caused by unwitnessed or suspected drowning
  6. Sudden unexpected deaths where the decedent does not have a well-documented illness that would explain death
    a. (All such deaths in young adults, children, and infants, including SIDS cases, should be autopsied. Deaths in the elderly should be considered on a case by case basis.)
  7. Suspicious or contested suicides
  8. Accidental deaths where the observable injuries do not appear sufficient to explain death or seem inconsistent with the alleged "accident"
  9. Possible public health hazard when the autopsy is the most expeditious means of determining whether in fact a hazard exists
    a. Deaths of travelers, vacationers, convention attendees, workers, students, and other strangers from afar should be carefully evaluated before a decision NOT to autopsy is made.
  10. Law enforcement insistence
  11. Badly burned (charred) bodies
  12. Badly disfigured bodies when identification may be an issue, especially if there are multiple fatalities
  13. Skeletonized remains
  14. Badly decomposed remains
  15. Any death where there is a reasonable suspicion that trauma (external force) may have been the cause or a contributing cause and an autopsy will settle the issue.
  16. Apparently natural deaths in known drug abusers
  17. Deaths due to acute workplace injury
    a. Labor and Industries will need to be informed of death