County Coroner’s 1st Quarter Summary sees spike in accidental deaths, passing of House Bill 29

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Updated to clarify the COVID related death reported below was a Coroner case.

(Fremont County, WY) – Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen shared his office’s 1st Quarter Summary for 2021 at the Fremont County Commissioners’ meeting today, April 13.

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According to Stratmoen, there have been 75 recorded deaths in Fremont County this quarter, 32 of which were Coroner Cases, up by only one case when compared to this time last year at 31.

While the overall numbers are about the same, the number of accidental and drug/alcohol related deaths have seen marked increases. Of these cases, 43% were deemed ‘non-natural’ – accident, homicide, suicide, undetermined – which is up from 32% this time last year.

Stratmoen also noted that drug and alcohol related deaths accounted for 38% of the deaths this quarter, which is up significantly from this time last year when it was at 19%.

As of this writing, there has only been one Coroner case that was a COVID related death this quarter, from January.

Also discussed by Stratmoen, was the passing of House Bill 29 (HB0029) by Governor Gordon, concerning the burial of ‘indigent people.’ Indigent refers to ‘someone who is considered poor, needy, or poverty-stricken.’ The aim of the bill is to provide funds to potentially pay for these situations.

Effective July 1, 2021, the bill will see a requirement that Vital Records add a fee of $5 to each death certificate copy, which will go into a specific fund. The county will then “each year, opt to apply for reimbursement of indigent expenses from that fund in the amount of $1,500 for each case.”

“I see nothing in this new law that requires any policy changes to what we already do,” Stratmoen stated, “but it does give the Commission a source for possible reimbursement.”

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