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El Paso County Coroner report used for education and death prevention

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-29 17:30:37-04


“The coroner’s office (EPPCO) serves El Paso County by investigating all sudden, unexpected, and non-natural deaths. While many natural deaths can be certified by the decedent’s physician, approximately one quarter of deaths require further investigation to determine cause and manner of death and ensure public health and safety. “

In 2017, the coroner’s office investigated 4968 deaths, “All of those required some degree of investigation,” said Dr. Leon Kelly, deputy chief medical examiner for the El Paso County Coroner’s office.

From those investigations, the coroner’s office performed 1,215 autopsies, 902 of which were deaths that happened in El Paso County.


“We do autopsies for the living, and the reason being is because, if we can learn why one person died, that gives us the tools to prevent another person from dying of that very thing,” stated Dr. Kelly,

Those autopsies revealed 308 deaths from a list of natural diseases. Additionally, 378 deaths were the result of various accidents. Blunt force trauma and drug misuse accounted for 166 deaths and 147 deaths respectively, “Opiates continue to haunt our county.”

Of the autopsies performed, 42 were homicides, “This year, eight of those homicides were related to domestic violence,” Dr. Kelly said.

164 deaths were due to suicide, “Our large number of suicides is a number that I think pops out to people minds as something that is very surprising.”

The coroner’s office also reports a total of 53 child fatalities. Of that number, six infant deaths were determined to be the cause of an unsafe sleep space.

“Those are areas where simple education and reinforcement of things that people already know essentially could prevent six deaths, six infant deaths from last year.”

The coroner’s office hopes this report can educate El Paso County residents and save lives going forward.

“So a report like this really lays the foundation for what we as citizens, county officials, as the public health department, as local elected politicians, and law enforcement want to spend our time and resources on. Focusing ultimately on prevention, making all of us in this community healthier, happier, and safer,” Dr. Kelly finished.