Westmoreland County coroner reports highest caseload in department history in 2018 | TribLIVE.com

Westmoreland County coroner reports highest caseload in department history in 2018

Kyle Hodges | Tribune-Review
Autopsy instruments are sit in a cabinet next to the autopsy table in the Westmoreland County Coroner’s office on July 28th, 2017.

The Westmoreland County Coroner’s office responded to the highest caseload in the department’s history last year, according to Deputy Coroner Joshua Zappone.

The coroner’s 2018 annual report — officially released Friday — shows about a 50-case increase since 2017, marking a gradual increase in cases since 2008.

Of the 2,875 cases reported to in 2018:

  • 2,584 were ruled natural deaths.
  • 226 were accidental, including car wrecks and overdoses.
  • 6 were homicides.
  • 59 were suicides or undetermined.

The coroner did see some relief last year in accidental drug overdose deaths, following several consecutive record years.

The coroner responded to over 190 overdose deaths in 2017, compared to about 120 overdose deaths last year. The 2018 number is the lowest overdose deaths have been since 2014, according to the report.

Officials saw a decrease in drugs used, including fentanyl, prescription opioids and heroin.

While fentanyl-related overdose deaths decreased by 40 percent from 2017, the drug accounted for 88 overdose deaths in 2018.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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