Fremont County Coroner, Mark Stratmoen, released his mid-year summary Tuesday morning at the Fremont County Commissioners meeting in Lander.
Stratmoen began his presentation by announcing that the number of Fremont County deaths so far in 2018 was slightly down compared to this time last year.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 170 recorded deaths in the county, 69 of which were Coroner cases. That compares to 96 Coroner cases in 2017 at this time.
Stratmoen says despite the lower numbers on the year, early July has been busier than expected, with ten cases since July 1st.
In 2017 so far, the number of accidental county deaths is 12, six less than the first half of 2017.
The number of deaths by suicide is 4, one less than 2017. And, the number of deaths by homicide is 1, six less than the first half of 2017.
The main thing that is good news, is that our motor vehicle traffic deaths are down considerably with ten less than this time last year – Stratmoen told the Commissioners
There have been 3 vehicular deaths so far in 2018. He did note however, that in 2017, there were 3 fatalities in one accident and five in another, accounting for a large percentage of the deaths.
County Commissioner Jennifer McCarty asked Stratmoen why he thought there were fewer vehicle-related deaths lately. Mark replied, “Just from seeing the reports on the traffic incidents, there’s been several serious rollovers, in most of those cases people were wearing their seatbelt. Aside from drug and alcohol involvement, that is the main factor in traffic fatalities. Traffic hasn’t gone down, out of state travelers haven’t gone down, seatbelts are a major factor.”
Drugs and alcohol related deaths remain a big area of emphasis in Mark’s presentations. 1/3 of his Coroner cases so far this year have been drug and/or alcohol related. 70% of the non-natural deaths saw drugs and/or alcohol play a factor.
Alcohol remains the number one factor in non-natural deaths, playing a factor in 14 this year. Opiate medications are the second-leading factor with 6 deaths, and Stratmoen found that 3 deaths were cannabis related. He also noted that methamphetamine saw a high of 15 related deaths in 2005, then declined to about two per year for ten years. 2016 saw 5, and 2017 saw 9 related deaths, the most occurring in the second-half of the year. So far in 2018 there have been 2 methamphetamine-related deaths.