The York County Coroner's Office is responsible for the investigation and completion of the death certificate for the following types of death:
- Sudden deaths not caused by readily recognizable disease
- Deaths occurring under suspicious circumstances or as a result of violence or trauma
- Operative and peri-operative
- Unidentified or unclaimed bodies
- Contagious diseases and any other disease reportable to the state health department
- Sudden infant death syndrome
- Bodies to be cremated, buried at sea or otherwise disposed of so as to be thereafter unavailable for examination. Funeral homes will contact coroner.
- Computerized death records or coroner's cases from 1858 up to the present time
- Monthly statistics of homicides, suicides and motor vehicle accidents
- Annual statistics of all causes of death within the realm of coroner participation
- Who is the Coroner?
Pamela L. Gay was elected Coroner in November 2013 and took office on January 6, 2014. A registered nurse for 34 years and certified in Forensic Nursing, Pam’s focus is on reaching out to survivors of loss and educating the community regarding health trends in York County and the preventative measures that can be taken to reduce deaths due to substance abuse and suicide. Pam is also certified as a Diplomate by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.
- What are the duties of the Coroner?
The York County Coroner’s Office (YCCO) investigates the facts and circumstances of deaths that occur within the county. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the cause of any such death and to determine whether or not there is sufficient reason to believe that any such death may have resulted from criminal acts or criminal neglect of persons other than the deceased.
- Where is the jurisdiction of the Coroner?
The York County Coroner's Office assumes jurisdiction of those deaths that occur within the limits of York County. The Coroner, Chief Deputy or Deputy Coroner may conduct interviews, serve subpoenas or otherwise conduct investigative procedures outside of the county as long as the death occurred within the county.
- Who notifies the Coroner's Office of a death?
Emergency Medical Service providers, Police Investigators or Healthcare Facility Personnel typically notify the Coroner's Office when a death occurs.
The general public should call 911 to report a death. If the decedent is under hospice care, it is appropriate for the family to contact the funeral director of their choice or hospice nurse without calling 911.
- Are all deaths reported to the Coroner?
No. In York County, the following deaths are not reportable:
- Decedents who are in-patients of a hospital for at least 24 hours and die as the result of only natural causes.
- Decedents who die of only natural causes as a resident of a skilled nursing facility or while in hospice care.
The following deaths are reportable to the Coroner in York County:
- All forms of criminal violence, unlawful acts or criminal neglect resulting in death
- All accidents (motor vehicle accidents, home accidents, falls or industrial accidents)
- All suicides
- All deaths caused or contributed to by drug/chemical overdose or poisoning
- Sudden death of a person in apparent good health
- Deaths unattended by a physician (i.e. decedent has not been under a physician's care, or physician or certified registered nurse practitioner [CRNP] who had been treating decedent prior to death had not treated decedent for illness decedent is thought to have succumbed to)
- Death of a decedent in York County who has been treated by an out-of-state physician who is not licensed in PA and therefore cannot sign the PA death certificate
- Deaths in a prison or penal institution
- Deaths while in police custody
- Deaths during or due to complications of diagnostic or therapeutic procedures (including operative or peri-operative) in which the death is not readily explainable on the basis of prior disease
- Any death in which trauma, falls or fractures, chemical injury, asphyxia, exposure, fire, drug overdose or reaction to drugs or medical treatment was a primary or secondary, direct or indirect, contributory, aggravating or precipitating cause of death
- Deaths related to employment
- Deaths occurring in a suspicious or unusual manner
- Any death wherein the body is unidentified or unclaimed
- Deaths known or suspected as due to contagious disease and constituting a public health hazard.
- Deaths of persons whose bodies are to be cremated, buried at sea or otherwise disposed of so as to be thereafter unavailable for examination
- Any sudden infant death
- Stillbirth due to maternal trauma or drug abuse or in absence of physician or midwife
- Are all Coroner records available to the public?
No. The Coroner's Investigative Report, Autopsy and Toxicology Reports are not public records. These reports contain information that is protected by Federal and State Laws.
The View of Body (cause and manner of all deaths) are the only records that are made available to the public. State Law requires that only the following information be made available for public view:
- Name of the decedent
- Cause and manner of death
- Age of the decedent
- Date and time of death
- Coroner's Name and Seal
- How do I obtain a Coroner's Report? Autopsy Report? Toxicology Report?
1 copy of each report is made available to the legal next of kin, providing that the investigation is complete and the case is closed.
Insurance or Legal requests for reports may be made in writing on company or law firm letterhead and must accompany a written authorization release from the legal next of kin.
- What is the cost for reports?
1 watermarked copy of autopsy and/or toxicology report is made available to the legal Next of Kin at no charge.
A fee is charged for additional copies to Next of Kin and/or outside legal/insurance entities at the following rates (if no pending criminal action). Insurance or legal entities must submit their request via letter on letterhead- all documents/photos are watermarked and cannot be copied:
Coroner's Investigative Report - $100
Autopsy Report - $500
Toxicology Report - $100
Case Photographs - $250 for first 50 photos; $250 for any additional photos beyond 50; $500 total max
- Who can retrieve the personal effects recovered from a decedent?
Personal effects are typically released to the funeral director along with the decedent.
The legal next of kin, or legal designee, may pick up items not released to the funeral director during normal office hours and by appointment only.
Recipient must present a valid government-issued photo ID and sign a release.
- Do I need to identify or can I view my loved one in the morgue?
No, due to biohazard and public health concerns, as well as insurance regulations, the general public is not permitted to enter the morgue facility, which is currently at York Hospital.
If identification of a decedent is necessary, additional forensic methods will be utilized.
Arrangements to view a decedent should be made with the funeral director handling the final disposition. Funeral homes will work with families who wish to view the decedent.