Fifteen cases in Four days with five autopsies, an under-powered budget, and running out of money; that does not sound like a place anyone would want to be, but according to the Madison County Coroner's office deputy coroner Katherine Callahan, that is exactly where they are at. 1,586 deaths, 62 accidents resulting in death, and ten homicides are the numbers she recited in the county council meeting last night, the last one for the year. Katherine mentioned that an autopsy could cost around $2,000.00, which is a problem when there is one scheduled, and they have less than a thousand dollars sitting in the bank. The problem is unavoidable. They mentioned in the meeting that they are running out of body bags and are concerned about operating without the working capital they need. They were unsuccessful last night in the meeting, and we apologize for the camera angle. This is the only copy of the replay we could locate. You can watch it below.
We embedded the replay. We don't know how they will function without money, and they said they were almost out of body bags. The statement I received from Katherine Callahan was, "Tax Payers! As you watched the gavel once again come down on the Coroner’s Office! We were speaking the truth! Look at how many offices do NOT work within their budgets! But the truth remains. The coroner's office cannot predict death! We have been given ZERO cares act money and ZERO ARPA funds! Now, if there was one office affected by Covid, it was OURS! The money they took from Coroners' salaries tonight was to pay for a semi-trailer to refrigerate bodies! That was due to the pandemic! So why didn’t they use the funding for that?!?
During the video, you will hear about a trip to Las Vegas that the coroner's office had to take for a conference related to the industry.
When I asked Katherine about the trip details, they stayed in a moderate hotel and flew in on coach class; the county only paid about $3,000.00, according to Katherine. She mentions that there were no perks like some expect when traveling for work. The hourly wages for the workers being less than that at many fast-food restaurants combined with the Madison County Coroner’s Office, whose principal duty is to inquire by an inquest into the cause of any death, which there is reason to suppose is not due to natural causes, makes it a vital part to the criminal justice system. We will continue to monitor how the office will function when they run out of money and do not know the full budget or how it was all spent. We have not seen the numbers, but if it does not solve anything, for the time being, they are out of money, and you can only spend it once.