Drug epidemic burdens Tippecanoe County Coroner's Office

The Tippecanoe County Coroner's Office is heavily impacted by the drug epidemic happening in Tippecanoe County. To help with the rising problem, the Tippecanoe County Council granted the coroner's office $54,000.

Posted: Oct 24, 2017 3:34 PM
Updated: Oct 24, 2017 3:38 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The Tippecanoe County Coroner's Office is heavily impacted by the drug epidemic happening in Tippecanoe County. To help with the rising problem, the Tippecanoe County Council granted the coroner's office $54,000.
The drug epidemic is both a statewide and national issue. Coroner Donna Avolt said the number of drug overdose deaths in Tippecanoe County are the highest she's seen.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 12 mixed drug intoxication overdoses.
Avolt said with each overdose death, the office has to perform a toxicology report. Toxicology reports cost the office, on average, $4,000 a month.
"What we are seeing is what I call mixed drug intoxication," said Avolt. "They're mixing the opioids with ethyl alcohol. That's just a fatality waiting to happen."
The Tippecanoe County Council granted the office $54,000 Tuesday to help fund the needed resources.
Avolt said it's not just the drug epidemic that is putting a strain on funding resources, it's also the growing population in Tippecanoe County. The caseload has almost doubled.
Avolt said $25,000 of the $54,000 is going toward funding autopsies. About $8,000 will go toward toxicology reports. The rest will help with staff wages.

All employees at the coroner's office are part-time and a majority are interns. Avolt said in the future, she hopes the office can bring on someone full time.
But just the day-to-day resources the office uses are extremely costly.
For example, just to dispose of the bio-hazard waste used during an autopsy costs $6,000 a month.
Avolt said she's thankful the council was able to grant the much-needed money.
"We only get one chance to do it right," said Avolt. "So whatever testing that we do that's one chance. If we need to do it, we do it."

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