There’s a big difference between a morgue and a coroner’s office with cold storage available for bodies. That’s why Starke County Coroner-elect Adam Gray has opted to wait on construction of space for his department. He told the county council last night he wants to take his time and make sure the county’s needs are met. Per the state, a morgue has space available for a pathologist to work and must adhere to strict guidelines. An office space with storage is less restrictive.
Gray is the first non-funeral director elected Starke County Coroner in several years. In the past the funeral directors have used their facilities as needed. Until the issue can be addressed permanently, Gray hopes to to use space at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth for cold storage of bodies as necessary. He’s spoken to Marshall County Coroner Bill Clevenger and is meeting next week with hospital officials to discuss a formal agreement. Gray told the council it should not cost more than $100 to $200 per instance. The 2015 budget contains a $2,000 line item for morgue rental space that can be used to cover that expense.
If a body is badly decomposed, Gray says it can be taken to another facility for storage. He added the body would likely be cremated, and the cost of doing so would be passed along to the family members unless the victim was not able to be identified.
A reference by Gray to Akron Mortuary during his comments during Monday’s county council meeting contained misleading information, according to officials with that facility. State law does not allow crematories to receive bodies from coroners departments. They must be released to a crematory by a licensed funeral director, nor can the crematory transport a body.