FAQ

 

1.   Who is the Coroner?
            Pamela L. Gay was elected Coroner in November 2013 and took office January 6, 2014. A
            registered nurse for 34 years and certified in Forensic Nursing, Pam’s focus is on reaching
            out to survivors of loss and educating the community regarding health trends in York County
            and the preventative measures that can be taken to reduce deaths due to substance abuse and
            suicide. Pam is also certified as a Diplomate by the American Board of Medicolegal Death
            Investigators.

2.   What are the duties of the Coroner?
            The York County Coroner’s Office (YCCO) investigates the facts and circumstances of deaths that
            occur within the county. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the cause of any
            such death and to determine whether or not there is sufficient reason to believe that any such
            death may have resulted from criminal acts or criminal neglect of persons other than the
            deceased.

3.   Where is the jurisdiction of the Coroner?
            The YCCO assumes jurisdiction of those deaths that occur within the limits of York County. The
            Coroner, Chief Deputy or Deputy Coroner may conduct interviews, serve subpoenas or otherwise
            conduct investigative procedures outside of the county as long as the death occurred within
            the county.

4.   Who notifies the Coroner's Office of a death?
           Emergency Medical Service providers, Police Investigators or Healthcare Facility Personnel 
           typically notify the YCCO when a death occurs.

           The general public should call 911 to report a death. If the decedent is under hospice care, it 
           is appropriate for the family to contact the funeral director of their choice or hospice 
           nurse without calling 911.

 5.   Are all deaths reported to the Coroner?
           No. In York County, the following deaths are NOT reportable:
                Decedents who are in-patients of a hospital for at least (24) hours and die as the result of 
                ONLY natural causes.

                Decedents who die of ONLY natural causes as a resident of a skilled nursing facility or while 
                in hospice care.

           The following deaths ARE reportable to the Coroner in York County:

    •   All forms of criminal violence, unlawful acts or criminal neglect resulting in death.
    •   All accidents (motor vehicle accidents, home accidents, falls or industrial accidents).
    •   All suicides.
    •   All deaths caused or contributed to by drug/chemical overdose or poisoning.
    •   Sudden death of a person in apparent good health.
    •   Deaths unattended by a physician (i.e. decedent has not been under a physician’s care, or  
        physician or CRNP who had been treating decedent prior to death had not treated decedent 
        for illness decedent is thought to have succumbed to).
    •   Death of a decedent in York County who has been treated by an out-of-state physician who is not 
        licensed in PA and therefore cannot sign the PA death certificate.
    •   Deaths in a prison or penal institution.
    •   Deaths while in police custody.
    •   Deaths during or due to complications of diagnostic or therapeutic procedures (including operative
        or peri-operative) in which the death is not readily explainable on the basis of prior 
        disease.
    •   Any death in which trauma, falls or fractures, chemical injury, asphyxia, exposure, fire, drug 
        overdose or reaction to drugs or medical treatment was a PRIMARY or SECONDARY, DIRECT or 
        INDIRECT, CONTRIBUTORY, AGGRAVATING or PRECIPITATING cause of death.
    •   Deaths related to employment.
    •   Deaths occurring in a suspicious or unusual manner.
    •   Any death wherein the body is unidentified or unclaimed.
    •   Deaths known or suspected as due to contagious disease and constituting a public health hazard.
    •   Deaths of persons whose bodies are to be cremated, buried at sea or otherwise disposed of so as 
        to be thereafter unavailable for examination.
    •   Any sudden infant death.
    •   Stillbirth due to maternal trauma or drug abuse or in absence of physician or midwife.

6.   Are all Coroner records available to the public?
           No. The Coroner’s Investigative Report, Autopsy and Toxicology Reports are not public record.
           These reports contain information that is protected by Federal and State Laws.

           The View of Body (cause and manner of all deaths) are the only records that are made available
           to the public. State Law requires that ONLY the following information be made available for
           public view: Name of the decedent, cause and manner of death, age of the decedent, date and
           time of death, Coroner's Name and Seal.

 7.   How do I obtain a Coroner's Report? Autopsy Report? Toxicology Report?
           One copy of each report is made available to the legal next of kin, providing that the
           investigation is complete and the case is closed.

           Insurance or Legal requests for reports may be made in writing on company or law firm
           letterhead and must accompany a written authorization release from the legal next of
           kin.

8.   What is the cost for reports?
One watermarked copy of autopsy and/or toxicology report is made available to the LEGAL Next of Kin at no charge.

A fee is charged for additional copies to Next of Kin and/or outside legal/insurance entities at the following rates (if no pending criminal action). Insurance or legal entities must submit their request via letter on letterhead- all documents/photos are watermarked and cannot be copied:

  • Coroner’s Investigative Report - $100.00
  • Autopsy Report - $500.00
  • Toxicology Report - $100.00
  • Case Photographs - $250.00 for first 50 photos; $250 for any additional photos beyond 50; $500 total max; must take all phot

9.   Who can retrieve the personal effects recovered from a decedent?
           Personal effects are typically released to the funeral director along with the decedent.

           The legal next of kin, or legal designee, may pick up items not released to the funeral director
           during normal office hours and by appointment only.

           Recipient must present a valid government issued photo ID and sign a release.

10.  Do I need to identify or can I view my loved one in the morgue?
           No, due to biohazard and public health concerns, as well as insurance regulations, the general
           public is not permitted to enter the morgue facility, which is currently at York Hospital.

           If identification of a decedent is necessary, additional forensic methods will be utilized.

           Arrangements to view a decedent should be made with the funeral director handling the final
           disposition. Funeral homes will work with families who wish to view the decedent.

 

 



 

  1. What are the duties of the Coroner?
The York County Coroner’s Office (YCCO) investigates the facts and circumstances of deaths that occur within the county. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the cause of any such death and to determine whether or not there is sufficient reason to believe that any such death may have resulted from criminal acts or criminal neglect of persons other than the deceased.

Alerts

Increase in Infant Sleep Deaths in York County

In Pennsylvania, and particularly in York County, a great deal of effort has been put forth to educate new parents and the community at large about infant sleep safety. The number of deaths in the state has shown a downward trend in recent years. We had seen a similar trend in the county. But in the first half of 2014, we have seen a significant spike in these deaths.

Due to the increase in these infant sleep-related deaths, the York County Coroner's office is partnering with PA SAFE Kids, the PA AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), and York County Cribs for Kids to raise awareness of the recent increase in these sudden unexplained infant deaths in our community. We have launched a renewed effort to educate our community on safe infant sleep. We believe this initiative is critical in preventing additional infant deaths in York County.

Sadly, sleep related infant deaths are the leading cause of death for infants between 1 month and 1 year of age in the U.S. During the first year of life, approximately 3,600 U.S. infants die suddenly and unexpectedly - one death every 2.5 hours of every day of the year! Infant suffocation and strangulation deaths have increased 30% over the past decade, and these are preventable deaths. Many studies have shown that, in up to 90% of the cases, the baby was in an unsafe sleep environment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is the premiere organization in the U.S. for advice on child care and health. There are clear recommendations for minimizing the risk of a tragic sleep related death in infancy, which include: back to sleep for every sleep; use a crib, bassinet, or portable crib/play yard that conforms to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM International; room-sharing without bed-sharing; and keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib.

Please call our office at (717) 840-7617 or your family physician or pediatrician if you have any additional questions about safe sleep. For more helpful information on safe infant sleep, click on the following links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBBiG6e4xRw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F194I4a5CLk

https://www.cribsforkids.org/2014/07/14/6999/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/billboard-campaigns/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/safesleepinthemedia/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/ask-the-pediatrician-faqs/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/cpsc-federal-safety-standard-for-play-yards/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/general-play-yard-safety/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/education-information-2/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/five-products-not-to-buy/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/safe-sleep-video/

https://www.cribsforkids.org/about-us/epidemickillingourbabies/

 

Heroin In York County 

During the last two years, York County has seen a significant increase in the number of heroin-related deaths, going from 17 confirmed in all of 2013 to 43 already confirmed this year through November 2014. As a matter of fact, if you take the nine confirmed heroin deaths during the first 6 months of 2013 and compare it to the 26 confirmed heroin deaths during the first 6 months of 2014, there has been an astronomical 189% increase in the number of heroin-related deaths since last year! As in many other PA counties, heroin overdose deaths are fast becoming as much of, or a bigger problem, than prescription overdose deaths. There is actually a lot of data that supports the theory that there is a direct link between the growing prescription drug problem in the U.S. and the increase in heroin usage and deaths.

Heroin is a highly addictive and DEADLY drug. No amount of heroin is safe, and no route of usage (snorting, smoking or injecting – and now even reported in pill form) is safe. Your friends and/or family members may be using and you may not even realize it. While less expensive than prescription drugs, it is still an expensive habit. And much of today’s heroin, even some we have seen here in York County, is mixed with other drugs (such as Fentanyl) that make it even more potent or lethal. It acts on the brain soon after usage, by slowing the respirations and resulting in death.

Heroin addiction, like other substance abuse, is destroying families, robbing small children of their parents, forcing grandparents to raise their children’s children and forever altering the future of the loved ones left behind. The human toll is devastating, as is the economic toll on businesses and taxpayers.

We believe one of the keys to combating this problem is education and awareness. The York County Coroner’s office, along with the York County Heroin Taskforce offers free, informative, educational presentations that we can bring to your community event, church or school. Please call us at 717-840-7617 if you or your group would be interested in such a presentation. The program can be customized for adults, students of middle school through college age and even church groups.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, we encourage you to seek help from your physician or a qualified health professional as soon as possible.

If you are in the midst of a life-threatening situation please dial 911 immediately. If you feel that you need detoxification, please call the White Deer Run Regional Support Center at 1-866-769-6822. This number can be used 24/7 and is designed to expedite detox placement for all funding sources, for all populations.

You may also find the following links to be helpful resources.

https://yorkcountypa.gov/health-human-services/drug-alcohol-services.html

https://drugfreepa.org/our-mission/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cskq_zGVSZs

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/americas-heroin-epidemic/managing-sons-heroin-addiction-full-time-job-n77391

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Zu0oIiB_vQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybLqltDqMi4#t=51

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/us/pennsylvania-deaths-of-22-linked-to-batch-of-heroin.html?_r=0

https://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/york_county_drug_unit_seizes_1.html

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

York County Funeral Homes

Please click here for a list of licensed funeral homes in York County. 

Cremation Authorization Forms for Funeral Homes

Meet the Staff

                                                             Meet the Staff

Coroner
Pam Gay 50-1

Phone: 717-840-7617 Ext. 6600

Pam-Gay

Pam Gay was sworn in to office in January 2014. A registered nurse for 33 years and certified in Forensic Nursing, Pam's focus is on reaching out to survivors of loss and educating the community regarding health trends in York County and the preventative measures that can be taken to reduce deaths due to suicide and substance abuse. Pam is also certified as a Diplomate by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators. Pam has been married to her husband, Jeff, for 32 years. They have two grown, married children and two grandchildren. Pam enjoys spending time with her family, reading, teaching and getting out on the York County Heritage Rail Trail.

Chief Deputy Coroner
Tania Zech  50-2

Phone: 717-840-7617 Ext. 6604

 

Deputy Coroner Tania Zech

Tania Zech joined the York County Coroner’s office in 2016. She has been a licensed practical nurse since 2010 and has volunteered for 10 years as an EMT at Jacobus Ambulance. She also has an emergency department background. She has been married to her husband, Toby, for 14 years. They have two sons, Wyatt, 10, and Colton, 4. She enjoys Sunday night family dinners and traveling with her family.
Supervisor Deputy Coroner
Jake Clevenger 50-5

Phone: 717-840-7617 Ext. 6603

Deputy Coroner Jake Clevenger

Jake Clevenger has been with the York County Coroner’s office since January 2016. After completing his degree in Business Administration, Jake served in the US Marine Corps Reserves, participating in Desert Storm. Upon returning home from Desert Storm, Jake joined the Spring Garden Twp Police Department in 1991, where he is still serving the community.  In 2008, Jake went back to school at Pittsburg Institute of Mortuary Science.  He obtained his PA Funeral Director’s license and works part time for Kuhner Associates Funeral Directors in York. He has been employed with them for 10 years. Jake and his wife, Laurie, enjoy spending time together in the Mountains of Clinton County. With a passion for the outdoors, hunting is a favorite past time for Jake.
Supervisor Deputy Coroner
Michele Kirchner 50-6

Phone: 717-840-7617 Ext. 6628

Deputy Coroner Kirchner

Michele has been a deputy coroner since June 2016. She has 10 years of experience as an autopsy technician and morgue diener as well as two years of forensic autopsy training. Michele specializes in forensic blood draws. When she is not on duty, Michele enjoys spending time with her grown children: Lacy, Adam, Colton and Courtney. She enjoys fishing with her husband, Brian, traveling the country with her girlfriends and relaxing on the water in her kayak.
Deputy Coroner
Onalee Gilbert 50-11

Phone: 717-840-7617

Onalee Gilbert

Onalee Gilbert began working as a York County deputy coroner in 1997. She was born in York County, attended Eastern York High School and graduated from York County Area Vocational-Technical School. She completed the PA Coroner’s Education Board training and is also certified as a Diplomate with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators. She has also been employed for more than 20 years in the Pathology Department at Wellspan York Hospital. Onalee enjoys spending time at the beach with her husband, John, and son, Johnny.
Deputy Coroner
Michelle Rau 50-12

Phone: 717-840-7617

Rau

Michelle joined the York County Coroner's Office as a part-time Deputy Coroner in 2014. After graduating high school she earned her certification as an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic in 2000 from Harrisburg Area Community College. From that time, she has been providing care to York County in a variety of positions including pre-hospital emergency medicine, corrections medicine, in-hospital emergency medicine and psychiatry. In 2011, she received her Bachelor's of Science in criminal justice from York College. She is passionate about giving a voice to the deceased that no longer have the ability to tell their own story as well as providing closure to their loved ones.
Deputy Coroner
Kayla Starner 50-18

Phone: 717-840-7617

Deputy Coroner KStarner

Kayla Starner began working as a part-time deputy coroner in 2017.  She was born in York County and graduated from Central York High School in 2005. Kayla began providing care in York and surrounding counties in a variety of positions and services including geriatric medicine, care for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and behavioral/psychiatric health.  In 2013, she graduated from Wellspan EMS Academy with a certification as an emergency medical technician, then began providing pre-hospital emergency medicine and became a volunteer firefighter. In 2016, she became a certified ordained minister.  Kayla enjoys spending time with her son, hockey, football, fishing and being in the outdoors.  "The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never explained, as I plan to help families have their answers and closure," she said.
Deputy Coroner
Karen Frank 50-23

Phone: 717-840-7617

Deputy Coroner Frank

Karen is a graduate of Dallastown Area High School.  She has two sons, Eric, 33 and Cody, 31 and a grandson, Greyson, 4 who is the love of her life.  Karen retired from York County in 2006 having worked at York County Children and Youth Services for 23 years.  She then went to work for Wellspan as a Patient Representative for 14 ½ years until they eliminated that position July 7, 2018 when she joined the Coroner’s Office.  Karen loves sports (Eagles, Orioles and Penn State) and also traveling; and goes on several cruises a year. 
Deputy Coroner
Carissa McLyman 50-13

Phone: 717-840-7617

Deputy Coroner McLyman

Carissa joined the Coroner’s Office in June of 2019 as a part-time Deputy Coroner. Originally from just outside Washington D.C. where she was raised, Carissa moved to York County in 2005 where she met her husband. After many years in healthcare Carissa went on to become a Registered Nurse something she had always aspired to become. After working years in acute care she transitioned into the specialty of surgical intensive care where she takes care of surgical and trauma patients. Carissa is passionate about her connection to families and advocating for patients. She takes a special interest in areas of education and forensics, both of which she continues to pursue further. Hoping to provide comfort to grieving families of lost loved ones and respect and care to those that have passed away, she was honored to join the York County Coroner’s Office. Carissa is happily married to her husband Greg. She has two beautiful step-daughters and three amazing sons. When not working in the ICU or at the Coroner’s Office she enjoys spending time with family and friends, vacationing with them and shopping. 


Molly York 50-14

 

 
Administrative Assistant
Vivian Howell

Phone: 717-840-7617 Ext. 6602

Vivian has been employed by the County of York since 1997, starting in the District Attorney's office and transferring to the Coroner's office in 1998. She was born in Adams County and is a Bermudian Springs graduate. She previously worked in the insurance industry and as a real estate agent before her county employment. She enjoys cooking, baking, reading and spending time with her daughter and son-in-law. She also likes relaxing with her two Maltese puppies.  

Confidential Secretary/
Administrative Assistant
Darryll Michael

Phone: 717-840-7617 Ext. 6601