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Coweta Coroner's Office sees case increase for 2021


  • By Jeffrey Cullen-Dean
  • |
  • Jan. 18, 2022 - 5:50 PM

Coweta Coroner's Office sees case increase for 2021

For most of the last decade, the coroner's office received less than one case per day. However, in 2021, the coroner's office received 1.35 cases per day, according to Stallings.

Last year was busy for the Coweta County Coroner's Office.

Deaths were up, said deputy coroner Gary Stallings.

For most of the last decade, the coroner's office received less than one case per day. However, in 2021, the coroner's office received 1.35 cases per day, according to Stallings.

The lowest was in 2012, with 0.76 cases per day.

Stallings said the coroner's office responded to 496 cases in 2021.

Of those cases, 57.96 percent were male, 40.66 percent were female and 1.49 were unknown.

It's undetermined why most of the cases were male, Stallings said.

According to Stallings, the cases labeled "unknown," in the data are the result of a box not being ticked during data entry or because the cases involved a fetus, and the gender of the baby was not known.

A plurality of the cases were people in their 60s, according to data from the Coroner's Office Death Investigation Management System, a system developed by the Coweta Coroner's Office to track cases.

The second age group with the highest amount of cases were people in their 70s, followed by Cowetans in their 50s.

A majority of the cases, 50.75 percent, were "non-hospital" deaths.

Stallings said the medical examiner responds to cases in the hospital if the person died within 24 hours of going to the hospital.

Fifty of the coroner's office's cases were confirmed to have or possibly had COVID-19.

It is the medical examiner's decision if the coroner's office takes a case. Stallings said cases taken on by the medical examiner usually involve a homicide or a situation where the cause of death cannot be determined and requires an autopsy.

Twenty-seven on-scene deaths were the result of overdoses, according to the data. Vehicle deaths and gun deaths had the next two highest causes of death, with 22 and 21 cases respectively.

In some medical examiner cases, organs, bone and tissue can be recovered from the bodies for donation.

Forty-six referrals were made from cases, and nine cases involved acceptance of the organs, bones or tissue, according to the data.

If a body is in good condition, the coroner's office will reach out to the deceased's family, Stallings said, to see if anything can be recovered.

"The body has to be in our cooler within 12 hours of their death, and they have to have their tissue recovered within the next 12 hours," he said. "All bone and tissue has to be recovered within 12 hours of their death."

The coroner's office will also interview the deceased's family to check on history, such as if the deceased was incarcerated or if they had hepatitis, Stallings said.

"If some of the answers are 'yes,' then we cannot accept them," he said.

Six homicides occurred — five in Newnan and one in Sharpsburg. Of the six, two were in their 20s, two were in their 30s, one was in their 40s and one was in their 50s.

Nine of the office's cases involved infants or children. Five of the cases were determined to be accidental, two were determined to be the result of natural causes, one was described as unknown and one is still pending.

According to the coroner's office's data, the leading cause of death in total cases was "natural cases."

Stalling said the coroner's office defines natural causes as anything that is not accidental, suicidal or homicidal.

"It's gonna be whether they died of a heart attack or a stroke or diabetes or anything like that," he said.