Guide For Survivors

Guide for Survivors

  
Coroner's Jurisdiction
Identification of the Deceased
Next of Kin and Release of Remains
Organ Donation
Pending Cases
Post-Mortem (Autopsy)
Purchasing Reports / Fees
Reports
Survivor Assistance Organizations


Coroner's Jurisdiction

The Coroner's office is a twenty-four hour a day, 7 days week office, mandated by commonwealth Law, to investigate the and determine the Cause and Manner of Death. Our Office Staff investigates cases of homicide, suicide, accident and all natural deaths that are sudden, unexpected or medically unattended. The coroner’s Office is charged by Pennsylvania Law to determine the Cause and Manner of Death by an extensive investigation which may include a post-mortem examination. This investigation is independent of police and or fire departments but, is done in conjunction with those other entities.

A post-mortem examination (autopsy) is ordered by this office only when it is vital in the determination of definitive Cause or Manner of Death. When ordered by this office, a charge for the autopsy is never incurred by the family. Our autopsies are only performed by a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist. Autopsies do not preclude an open casket viewing.

On completion or our Coroner’s investigation and post-mortem examination, the Coroner or his Deputy will complete a death certificate and issue the certificate to the Funeral Director of your choice. Certified copies of the death certificate are only available from the Funeral Director during the month of death. After that period, copies may be purchased from the Pennsylvania Department of Vital Records by calling 724 656-3100. Do not contact our office for additional death certificates.

Identification of the Deceased

If a positive identification is necessary, a Deputy Coroner will notify you of the procedure and where to report. If you are a Lehigh County Resident you will be notified in person, at your residence by a Deputy Coroner and Police.,

The Lehigh County Coroner's Office & Forensic Center is located at 4350 Broadway St. Allentown, PA.18104. It is at this address that you may pick up your loved one’s personal property. The Forensic Center is a secure facility as such, you or your family may be subjected to a security check at the door.

You must possess a current photo identification card to pick up any personal items of the decedent. Any prescription medications collected during our investigation will be destroyed and not returned to the family.

Organ Donation

Facing the death of loved one may be extremely devastating. During this difficult time, many people find comfort in knowing that others can be helped through Organ and Tissue donation. At the time of your loved one’s death, qualified medical personnel will review your loved one’s medical and social history to determine if any donation options exist. When there are opportunities for anatomical donations, a representative from the Gift of Life Donor Program will contact you to discuss the details. Donation only occurs after authorization from the next of kin and the Coroner’s Office

Gift of Life Donor Program (800 DONORS1 or 1 800 366 6771)

Next of Kin and Release of Remains

The Next of Kin is defined in the following hierarchy:

  1. Spouse - is a husband or wife who are legally married, separated but, not divorced
  2. Children of the deceased over 18 years of age
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings

Remains of the deceased will only be released to a Certified Funeral Director. It is important for the Next of Kin to select a Funeral Director as soon as possible and notify this office of the selection.

If all efforts to locate the Next of Kin have exhausted, the Office of the Coroner will provide interment of the body in a County maintained cemetery.

Scientific or anatomical donations are allowed in this Commonwealth. Arrangement made in advance will be honored by this office unless a post-mortem examination must be conducted. All efforts will be made to honor the last requests of any individual however, if a suspicious circumstance exist, a victim of a homicide and/or questionable suicides may be preclude this type of donation.

Pending Cases

You may be initially informed that the Cause and Manner of Death are “Pending”. Pending simply refers that the Cause and Manner of Death are still under investigation. Pending cases may be cleared in as little as two days or may remain pending for years of continued investigation. The average pending case is cleared in 10-12 weeks. You will be contacted as soon as the investigation results are complete. The Next Of Kin will be the first to be notified of all completed pending cases. For this reason, if you move or change your phone number, it is imperative you inform this office.

Reports

The Coroner’s Office maintains complete records on every case we have investigated. As a family member you are entitled to view these documents. To view the documents simply contact our Office Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm to make an appointment to view this case file. We will provide a Deputy Coroner to review with you the report and answer all of your questions pertaining to this case.

Purchasing Reports

If you feel it is necessary to have a printed copy of the case reports, copies will be made of the report, as permitted by law, providing you pay the State mandated fees.

Type of Report Fee
Coroner's Field Report $50.00
Toxicology Report $50.00
Autopsy Report $100.00
Administrative Fee $35.00

Where there is a pending investigation being conducted by law enforcement, the District Attorney may request that certain records not be released. Further, in some cases, the District Attorney may petition the Court to seal the records of the Coroner’s investigation.

Post-Mortem (Autopsy)

The Coroner’s Office maintains complete records on every case we have investigated. As a family member you are entitled to view these documents. To view the documents simply contact our Office Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm to make an appointment to view this case file. We will provide a Deputy Coroner to review with you the report and answer all of your questions pertaining to this case.

Survivor Assistance Organizations

Presented with the death of a loved one is a taxing and overwhelming situation. Support is available through agencies devoted to survivor assistance. Such organizations are designed to help survivors cope with their loss through support and intervention. These agencies were designed to educate the survivors to constructively face their loss and grief.

  • Grieving Support
  • Crime Victims Council of Lehigh Valley
    • Business Office: 610 437-6610
    • Crime Victims Council Hot Line: 610 437-6611
  • Survivors of Suicide
    • Support Groups
    • Family & Counseling Services
    • 411 Walnut Street
      Allentown PA 18101
      Phone: 610 435-9651