Summit Coroner report: 2009 second-busiest year on record |

Summit Coroner report: 2009 second-busiest year on record

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SUMMIT COUNTY – The local coroner’s office had its second-busiest year on record in 2009, with 68 deaths reported from preliminary data.

“Right before Christmas we had five in one week. It’s just unpredictable,” Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson said.

The office in 2008 recorded 63 deaths and in 2007 recorded 42. Richardson said 2009 was the first in six years that her office exceeded its budget from the county government, and that the budget fell about $10,000 short after getting cut the previous two years.

“It’s getting very hard to predict or know what to ask for,” Richardson said, adding that the Summit County Commissioners are understanding when it comes to her budget.

She has four deputies and another in training. After she lost one, the county was quick to replace the deputy.

“They’re (county officials) really good to me because they know I don’t have any administrative person, and that’s one thing I’ve been trying to fight for the last six years,” Richardson said.

She took office in January 2003 and plans to run for a final term this year; the four-year office is limited to three terms. Richardson is on call about 20 to 25 days per month, and her deputies operate the office – is accessible 24/7 all year – when she is unavailable.

The office last year conducted 13 autopsies and two privately-funded autopsies. Richardson said that sometimes after her office has determined an autopsy unnecessary, the families offer to pay for it at about $3,000 per case.

Her plans for the future include getting a new database up and running and “hopefully transitioning somebody who wants to run after I’m term-limited,” she said.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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