Reporting a Death

Reporting a Death to the Coroner
As per RCW 68.50.020, every person who knows of the existence or location of a dead body must notify the coroner in the most expeditious manner, unless the person knows that the coroner has already been given notice of the death. Persons who do not report the existence of a dead body to the coroner are guilty of a misdemeanor. In San Juan County notification is usually made by calling the sheriff's dispatcher at 360-378-4151.

Types of Deaths to Be Reported to the Coroner
As per RCW 68.50.010, the coroner is given jurisdiction over all bodies of deceased persons when one or more of the following circumstances apply:
  • Bodies that are not claimed
  • Circumstances indicate death caused entirely, or in part, by unnatural or unlawful means
  • Contagious disease
  • Deaths caused by any violence whatsoever, whether the primary cause or any contributory factor in the death
  • Persons who die suddenly when in apparent good health and without medical attention within the 36 hours preceding death
  • Premature and stillborn infants
  • Suspicious circumstances
  • Unknown or obscure causes