Vermilion County Coroner
The following information has been compiled for the purpose of acquainting individuals and organizations with the procedures to be followed when they come in contact with the types of deaths described in the following pages.
Conformity with these procedures will prevent unnecessary delay and inconvenience to the family, friends, and those persons having any responsibility to and for the deceased.
Please consult the Coroner’s Office in regard to any death about which you have any doubt of question.
Types Of Deaths Which Must Be Reported To The Coroner’s Office
- Police Officers
- Funeral Directors
- Ambulance Attendants
- Vital Statistics Registrar
Notification in Case of Death by Violence or Suicide
Any person who discovers the body or acquires the first knowledge of the death of any person who died as the result of criminal or other violent means, or by casualty, or by suicide, or suddenly when in apparent health, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, shall immediately notify the office of the coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner and circumstances of such death, and of any other information which is required by the coroner.
Notification by Hospital
Any person D.O.A. (Dead on Arrival) at Hospitals, these cases are to be reported immediately, and no person shall, without an order from the Coroner, willfully touch, remove, disturb the body of any such person, or disturb the clothing or any article upon or near such body.
Notification by Physician in Case of Death by Violence or Suicide
When any person dies as a result of criminal or other violent means, or by casualty, or by suicide, or suddenly when in apparent health, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, the physician called in attendance shall immediately notify the office of the coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner and circumstances of such death and any other information required by the Coroner. In such cases, if a request is made for cremation, the funeral director called in attendance shall immediately notify the coroner.
I. Accidental Deaths
(All forms including death arising from employment.)
- Anesthetic Accident. (Death on the operating table prior to recovery from anesthesia.)
- Blows or other forms of mechanical violence.
- Crushed beneath falling objects.
- Cutting or Stabbing.
- Drowning (actual or suspected).
- Electric Shock.
- Fractures of bones (not pathological) cases to be reported even when the fracture is not primarily responsible for the death. All hip fractures, if patient dies within one year and one month, the Coroner must be notified.
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. (Resulting from natural gas, automobile exhaust or others.)
- Heat exhaustion.
- Insolation. (Sunstroke.)
- Poisoning. (Food poisoning, occupational or other.)
- Suffocation. (Foreign object in bronchi, by bed clothing or other means.)
- Vehicular Accidents. (Automobile, street car, bus, railroad, motorcycle, bicycle, or other.)
II. Homicidal Deaths
III. Suicidal Deaths
Criminal or self induced maternal or fetal deaths. When the manner of death falls within the above classification, such death must be reported to the coroner even though the survival period subsequent to onset is 12 months.
V. Sudden Deaths
When in apparent health or in any suspicious or unusual manner including:
- Sudden death on the street, at home, in a public place, at place of employment.
- Deaths under unknown circumstances, whenever there are no witnesses or where little or no information can be elicited concerning the deceased person. Deaths of this type include those persons whose dead bodies are found in the open, in places of temporary shelter, or in their homes under conditions which offer no clues to the cause of death.
- Deaths which follow injuries sustained at place of employment whenever the circumstances surrounding such injury may ultimately be subject of investigation. Deaths of this classification include: Caisson Disease. (Bends) Industrial infections. (Anthrax, septicemia following wounds including gas bacillus infections, tetanus, etc.) Silicosis. Industrial poisonings (Acids, alkalies, analine, benzine, carbon monoxide, carbon tetrachloride, cyanogen, lead, nitrous fumes, and so forth.) Contusions, abrasions, fractures, burns (flames, chemical, or electrical) received during employment which in the opinion of the attending physician are sufficiently important, either as the cause or contributing factor to the cause of death, to warrant certifying them on the death certificate.
- All still born infants where there is suspicion of illegal interference.
- Deaths of persons where the attending physician cannot be found, or deaths of person who have not been attended by a physician within one week prior to the date of death.
- All deaths occurring within 24 hours of admission to a hospital unless the patient has been under continuous care of a physician for natural disease which is responsible for death.
- All hip fractures if the patient dies within one year and one month, the Coroner must be notified.
- All deaths in State institutions and all deaths of wards of the State in private care facilities or in programs funded by the Department of Mental Health and Development Disabilities or the Department of Children and Family Services shall be reported to the Coroner of the County in which the facility is located. If the Coroner has reason to believe that an investigation is needed to determine whether the death was caused by maltreatment or negligent care of the ward of the State, the Coroner may conduct a preliminary investigation of the circumstances of such death as in cases of death under circumstances set forth in paragraphs (a) through (e) of Illinois Revised Statutes, Chapter 55, Section 5/3-3013.
- Any deaths which occur within Vermilion County and not at a hospital or nursing home facility, (at any residence, employer, and/or public facility) will immediately be reported to the Coroner.
Coroner’s Act Illinois Revised Statues, Chapter 55
Laws pertaining to notification of the Coroner and authorization of the removal of deceased which directly pertain to the previously indicated material.
Coroner To Be Notified-Violation
5/3-3020 Every law enforcement official, funeral director, ambulance attendant, hospital director or administrator or person having custody of the body of a deceased person, where death is one subject to investigation under Section 3 of this Act, and any physician in attendance upon such a decedent at the time of his death shall notify the coroner promptly. Any such person failing to so notify the coroner promptly shall be guilty of a Class A. misdemeanor, unless such person has reasonable cause to believe that the coroner had already been so notified.
Removal of Bodies Permit-Exception – Violation
5/3-3019 No dead body which may be subject to the terms of this Act, or the personal property of such deceased person, shall be handled, moved, disturbed, embalmed or removed from the place of death by any person, except with the permission of the coroner, unless the same shall be necessary to protect such body or property from damage or destruction, or unless necessary to protect life, safety, or health. Any person knowingly violating the provisions of this Section is guilty of Class A. misdemeanor.
Definition and Information Concerning Coroner’s Inquest in Vermilion County
A Coroner’s Inquest is neither a civil nor a criminal trial proceeding. It is simply an inquiry into the manner and cause of an individual’s death.
An inquest is conducted by the Coroner or deputy coroner with six jurors present. The jurors are citizens of Vermilion County, the county in which the death took place.
The purpose of the inquest is to present pertinent information concerning the victim’s death in order for the jury to arrive at a cause and manner of death. The cause of the death is often readily apparent and obvious based on the facts, circumstances, medical evidence and in some cases toxicology and autopsy results. The real essence of the juror’s responsibility is to establish the manner of death (suicide, homicide, accident, natural or undetermined).
The Coroner will summon to the inquest those individuals who have pertinent information concerning the incident. This often includes but is not limited to the person who found the deceased, witnesses to the incident, those involved, police officers and investigators, and in some instances a direct relative. All individuals summoned will present testimony (answer questions) to the jury. Any professional reports (autopsy, toxicology, x-ray and laboratory reports) will be presented at that time. These reports are not released to the public until the inquest procedures occur.
All information and testimony at the inquest is recorded and/or transcribed by a competent reporter. All such information will be documented verbatim in the inquest transcript available approximately three weeks after the inquest. This transcript may be reviewed in the Coroner’s office at no charge. A copy of the transcript may be purchased at $3.00 per page pursuant to the Illinois state law (Illinois Revised Statutes), Chapter 55, Section 4-7, Par. 5/4-7001.
The inquest is open to the public and may not be closed pursuant to any requests to do so. Anyone may attend. We do post inquest dates and times, and if someone would request notification, they are so honored by telephone at least seven days preceding the inquest.
Attorneys are welcome to attend. The need for an attorney is purely an individual decision. This office neither recommends or advises concerning any attorney attendance, the exception being the County State’s Attorney, who is notified of all inquests in Vermilion County. Attorneys are allowed to ask questions of witnesses as a courtesy only, and such questions are directed to be a maximum of two or three of each witness. Questioning again is a courtesy which may be revoked at any time. The family or anyone else will not be permitted to question the witnesses nor supply their own witnesses, again the exception being the County State’s Attorney who can question the witness at any time.
Upon completion of the testimony the Coroner’s jury will deliberate in private. They may request additional testimony, evidence, or conference as they deem necessary. When the jury has concluded their deliberation they will issue a verdict as to the cause and manner of death (accident, homicide, natural, suicide or undetermined).
The testimony presented at the inquest is sworn and under oath and properly documented and/or recorded. Because of this the testimony may subsequently be used in perjury proceedings if such testimony should change in future civil or criminal trial proceedings.
Testimony cannot be changed at a later date. Verdict or inquest cannot later be changed or the inquest reopened for any purpose (pursuant to opinions of the Illinois Attorney General); cause and manner of death once established will appear at the conclusion of the inquest on the permanent death certificate; after the conclusion of the inquest a copy of the certified death certificate may be obtained at the local registrar of the Vital Records, Vermilion County Health Department, 200 South College, Suite A, Danville, IL Phone 431-2662.
All Coroner’s public records are accessible after the inquest unless so restricted by the State’s Attorney or the court. All such provisions and explanations presented here are subject to revision at any time.