Coroner provides 2020 totals

Monroe County Coroner Bob Hill

The Monroe County coroner’s annual report for 2020 looked a little different than previous years, as a new subcategory was added to the “natural” death classification: COVID-19. 

According to the report, 18 of the 211 natural death calls Monroe County Coroner Bob Hill received were COVID-19 deaths. Because there are no hospitals in Monroe County, this number does not begin to reflect the scope of the toll the pandemic took on the county. 

The figures in the report merely reflect the calls Hill’s office received. 

“A COVID death is one in which COVID-19 is listed on the death certificate by either the certifying physician or the coroner. Based on the sensitive nature of the pandemic, all COVID deaths received additional review by the coroner to ensure accuracy in state reporting,” the report notes. 

In total, the coroner handled 222 calls in 2020, 56 of which required on-scene investigation. This is 21 more calls than seen in 2019 and eight more calls that required on-scene investigation. 

In 2020, Hill did not respond to any vehicle crash deaths, nor homicides.

In 2019, two deaths were attributed to motor vehicle crashes and one was ruled a homicide. 

In keeping with past years, the number of calls attributed to natural causes of death make up the largest category of calls received. 

In 2019, Hill responded to 201 calls, with 48 of those requiring on-scene investigation. A total of 185 of these calls were ruled as natural deaths, which the reports define as “(a death) due to a spontaneous or naturally occurring disease or degenerative process.” 

The reports define accidental deaths as those that are “a result of an unnatural cause where there is no evidence of intent to cause harm and the fatal outcome was unintentional.”

Both 2020 and 2019 saw nine accidental deaths, but the exact causes varied in nature. 

The number of accidental overdoses increased in 2020 by approximately 33 percent; 2019 saw three deaths caused by drug/alcohol intoxication while 2020 saw four.

2019 saw one accidental death caused by smoke inhalation, two from motor vehicle crashes and three falls. 2020 saw five deaths from falls. 

Suicides were reduced by 60 percent from 2019 to 2020, with Hill ruling five county deaths as suicides in 2019 and two as suicides in 2020.  

While 2020 did not see any homicides, the 2019 report listed one call as a homicide. 

Just like mentioned with the COVID-19 deaths, figures in the Monroe County coroner’s reports do not reflect individuals who were injured in the county who later died elsewhere at a hospital. 

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Madison Lammert

Madison is a reporter at the Republic-Times. She has over six years of experience in journalistic writing. Madison is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mass communications. Before graduating and working at the Republic-Times, Madison worked for SIUE’s student newspaper, The Alestle, for many years. During her time there she filled many roles, including editor-in-chief. When she is not working, she likes to spend time with her dog and try new restaurants across the river.
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