In small counties such as San Juan, the duties of the County coroner are combined with the prosecuting attorney. The coroner is responsible for investigating and certifying the cause of death in those cases where death is sudden, unexpected, or the result of an accident or unlawful means. Randall K. Gaylord and other deputies are available 24/7 to respond to a death, and to investigate and answer questions.
Because we are trained as lawyers, not doctors, we rely on the
assistance of many others to accomplish our work. We coordinate with
sheriff deputies, local doctors and medical staff, hospice workers,
forensic pathologists, regional medical examiners, investigators, and
family members and next of kin.
There is no morgue in San Juan County and the coroner has no vehicles
or equipment. The remains of deceased persons within the jurisdiction of
the coroner are transported by Evans Funeral Home of Anacortes or the
Snohomish County Medical Examiner. If an autopsy is necessary to
determine the cause of death, the procedure takes place at the Snohomish
County Medical Examiner facility in Everett.
In cooperation with local doctors, the coroner does not assume
jurisdiction in those cases where death is anticipated due to natural
causes or disease. This office has implemented a procedure known as NJA
("No Jurisdiction Assumed") which requires a caregiver to obtain a
signed statement from the treating physician and provide that statement
to the coroner before death. A copy of the NJA form is provided below.