New Kosciusko County Coroner’s Building could be ready this summer

(photo supplied / Tony Ciriello)

The county coroner’s building could be up and running as early as mid-summer, according to County Coroner Tony Ciriello.

Earlier this year the county purchased the veterinarian hospital owned by the late Dr. Greg Sasso. On Tuesday, the county commissioners accepted a bid of over $41,000 from Clint Davis Construction for remodeling work for the building on West Lake Street.

“The coroner’s office has been in need of its own facility for a long time,” he said.

By having its own facility, Ciriello said, the coroner’s office can take the bodies there, “do the things we need to do in order to determine cause of death,” and store them until the family determines what funeral home they want to use. The bodies will then be released to that funeral home.

“With all the commuter traffic out on (U.S.) 30, it’s not uncommon for somebody to get killed in a wreck on U.S. 30, from out of state or at least out of county. And until we make contact with the family and get notification on what funeral home they want, we’ve also got a place to hold them,” he said.

The only spot they have now is a body cooler at a local hospital. This spot is available only when the hospital isn’t using it, he said. The new building will have its own cooler.

When a person loses a loved one suddenly or traumatically, he said, the first thing they often want to do is see them, especially if it’s a teenager or child. The facility will have a family room where people can do this once the body has been prepared.

There also will be a meeting room where the coroner’s office can meet with families and gather all information to complete the coroner’s end of the investigation.

He said several other Indiana counties, including Starke and Wabash, have their own coroner’s office. “Those counties have about half the number of calls as we do a year .. so even the smaller counties are seeing the need for these facilities,” he said.

Ciriello said he was fortunate that when he approached the county commissioners and council with the idea they were in favor of it.

“The building we bought is in an ideal location for it. It’s got all the exam areas and stuff since it was a veterinarian’s office. It’s going to get a complete facelift inside, it’s going to be brand new on the inside. But for the most part, the facility is set up for everything we need,” he said.

Ciriello anticipates the building could be ready by midsummer.

“But when we do get it done, we are going to do a public announcement on it, let people know it’s there. It’s not a secret location by any means, but it is a secure location,” he said.