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Dotti Owens, Ada County Coroner

Coroner FAQ - Ada County Coroner

(Please see https://adacounty.id.gov/coroner for the latest version of this information)

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Coroner FAQ

Why is the Coroner’s Office investigating my loved one’s death?

The Ada County Coroner’s Office is governed by Idaho law. These laws require the Coroner or his/her designee investigate certain types of deaths. If the Coroner’s Office is involved in investigating the death of your loved one, it is likely the circumstances of your loved one’s death require investigation under Idaho law (see statutes).

How do I contact the Ada County Coroner’s Office?

The Ada County Coroner’s Office may be reached by calling 208-287-5556. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. and closed for lunch daily from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. The office is also closed on holidays. However, the office is staffed 24/7 by the Investigations division allowing the public and other agencies access to an ACCO employee at all times by phone. To contact the afterhours on-call investigator, please call 208-287-5556 and select option #1.

Where is the Investigator taking my deceased loved one?

Your loved one will be transported to the Ada County Coroner’s Office located at: 5550 Morris Hill Road in Boise, Idaho 83706.

What about Organ/Tissue donation?

The deceased individual must meet certain criteria to be eligible for organ, tissue and/or whole body donation. Additionally, deaths under the investigation of the Coroner’s Office require the approval of the Coroner or forensic pathologist for donation. Donation is evaluated and approved on a case by case basis, however, circumstances of the death can prevent donation from occurring. Additional information on organ and tissue donation can be found at the Tissue-Organ website listed under the RESOURCES tab of this website.

Will my loved one receive an autopsy?

Autopsies are performed at the discretion of the Coroner and the forensic pathologist in accordance with Idaho law and forensic standards of practice. The decision is based on the circumstances of death.

How will I know if an autopsy is performed on my loved one?

Legal next of kin will be notified if a decision has been made to conduct an autopsy. Your assigned investigator will contact you and can answer questions you may have.

What if I do NOT want an autopsy to be performed?

Autopsies are authorized by the Coroner, based on need to determine cause and manner of death. Autopsies are not elective and do not require the consent of the next of kin. However, please make sure that your views are expressed to the investigator of the case and your concerns will be noted appropriately in the case file.

What if I want an autopsy to be completed and the Coroner’s Office isn’t going to do one?

The Coroner and forensic pathologist discuss each and every case to make the determination whether an autopsy is warranted to determine cause and manner of death. If it is decided the cause and manner of death can be accurately determined without an autopsy, one will not be completed. Please make sure and express your wishes for an autopsy to the investigator of the case.

How long does it take to determine the cause and manner of death?

Unfortunately, there is not a set amount of time on how long it will take to determine the cause and manner of death. An autopsy/inspection is generally completed within 24 hours. We try to have the cause and manner of death determined within 30-60 days, however, this is only a general timeline dependent on toxicology, consultations or other specialized testing.

How long does it take for toxicology results to come back?

Due to the fact toxicology is sent to an outside facility for testing, there is no set time for when we will get the results back. Toxicology results can take up to 4-6 weeks to be completed.

My loved one had an autopsy. Will we still be able to have an open casket funeral?

The surgical procedures used to perform the autopsy do not interfere with having an open casket funeral.

My loved one had an autopsy. When will the final results be available?

The autopsy procedure is a very comprehensive examination and the process, along with additional associated testing, is time consuming. The final report (known as the Autopsy Report) is usually available in ten to twelve weeks after the autopsy. If you would like to find out if there are preliminary autopsy findings, you may call and request to speak with the investigator of the case file. Cases with pending criminal charges will not be released for 45 days after sentencing.

Do I need to identify the decedent and will I be able to view my loved one at the Ada County Coroner’s Office?

The staff at the Ada County Coroner’s Office works diligently to properly identify all individuals who come through the office using multiple circumstantial and scientific methods. Family identification of the decedent is not available. Viewing of your loved one in the comfort of a funeral home setting is the only option available in Ada County. The Ada County Coroner’s Office is a secure facility and due to the nature of the types of cases and evidence involved in cases investigated here, viewing of loved ones at our facility is not available.

When will my loved one’s body be released by the Coroner’s Office?

In most circumstances, your loved one’s body is available for release to a funeral home within 24 hours. If the decedent was transported to the office during the weekend or a holiday, he/she should be available for release the next business day. The Ada County Coroner’s Office will NOT release a decedent until proper paperwork has been signed with the next of kin’s funeral home of choice.

What Funeral Home should I use?

The Ada County Coroner’s Office is a governmental office. Coroner personnel cannot refer families to funeral homes. We encourage you to consult with your family and friends for recommendations. If you are unsure who to use, you may inquire about our monthly funeral home rotation list. Information regarding funeral services can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website (www.ftc.gov) under consumer protection.

Who can make funeral arrangement or final disposition decisions for a decedent?

Only legal next of kin or an individual who holds a durable power of attorney for health care can make funeral arrangements or final disposition decisions for a decedent. A significant other or friend, regardless of how long they have been involved with the decedent, cannot make arrangements unless they have legal documentation authorizing them to do so.

How do I get my loved one's property back?

All property will be released with your loved one to the funeral home chosen by the family.

There is blood and other biohazardous material in the location where my loved one died. Who can I call to help clean the area?

There are numerous biohazard and crime scene clean-up companies that can be found on the internet and in the phone book. You may also contact a TIP volunteer for further information and referrals. See the RESOURCES section on this website for information on TIP volunteers.

How do I get a death certificate?

The Ada County Coroner’s Office cannot issue death certificates, per state law. Death certificates, however, may be obtained through the funeral home carrying out the final arrangements. Death certificates are also available through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics (IVR@DHW.IDAHO.GOV).

Why does the death certificate I received say PENDING?

A “pending” death certificate is issued to establish a person has died while the cause and manner of death are being investigated. This pending death certificate allows you to make funeral arrangements and start other legal processes while the cause and manner of death are being determined. Once the cause and manner of death are determined by the forensic pathologist, a supplemental death certificate is submitted to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics by our office with the final cause and manner of death.

Do I have to pay for the Coroner’s services (autopsy, investigation, specimen testing, etc)?

The Ada County Coroner’s Office is a county government office funded by tax dollars. Standard services provided by the Ada County Coroner’s Office, on cases under the jurisdiction of the office, are of no additional cost to the deceased individual’s immediate family.

What do I do next?

We recommend seeking support from family and friends to assist you in getting through this difficult time. If you are the legal next of kin to the deceased individual or the executor of his/her estate, you will need to begin making final arrangements for your loved one. Once you have selected a funeral home to handle your loved one’s final arrangements, they will guide you and help you to fill out all of the necessary paperwork.