Department of Justice

Coroner's Office

About Coroners

What does a coroner do?
Coroner's investigation
Autopsy


WHAT DOES A CORONER DO?

When a person dies without warning or as a result of a traumatic and unexplained event, a coroner confirms the identity of the deceased and investigates the circumstances of the death.

Coroners are responsible for:

  • Ensuring no death is overlooked, concealed or ignored.
  • Working with police, medical practitioners and other agencies during an investigation.
  • Learning if there is anything that can be done to prevent similar deaths in the future.
  • Making recommendations to improve the quality of life and safety of all persons.
  • Providing helpful support and information to grieving families and the community.


CORONER'S INVESTIGATION


When a death is reported the coroner:

  • Collects information, conducts interviews, inspects and seizes documents, and secures the scene.
  • Requests specialized experts to assist with the investigation, such as RCMP, fire marshal and occupational health and safety (OH&S) persons, pathologists, forensic dentists, and other professionals, as appropriate.
  • Releases a final report that outlines the facts and findings of the investigation, which may include:
    o Information from agencies involved, including RCMP, ambulance services and hospitals.
    o Findings of autopsy, toxicology and other ancillary testing conducted (where applicable).
    o Recommendations to prevent future deaths (where appropriate).

View investigative timeline >>


AUTOPSY


An autopsy is a thorough examination of a deceased individual to determine the cause of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present.

  • The coroner is provided provisions under the Coroners Act to order an autopsy to determine cause of death.
  • The autopsy will be important to families as it may help answer questions about hereditary aspects of disease, legal considerations such as insurance and assist in the determination of manner of death.
  • Yukon autopsies and toxicology testing is performed in Vancouver, BC.  The deceased person is transported by air to-and-from Whitehorse.
  • Autopsies are performed by a qualified pathologist and conducted as quickly as possible. The pathologist may collect specimens for toxicological and microscopic analysis, and in some cases, may complete specialized analysis of organs.
  • The coroner will advise the family once the autopsy is complete so they may proceed with funeral arrangements and share the autopsy findings (unless there are special circumstances).
  • The Coroner’s Service makes every effort to accommodate the religious or cultural practices of the deceased and the family within its obligation to investigate.