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Hard Economic Times Cause Bodies to Stack up at Coroners' Offices

By Sandy Sand     Jul 22, 2009 in Business
Demands on coroners’ offices across the country are reaching a near crisis, with more families suffering from bad economic times, they are unable to claim bodies of loved ones and leaving cremations up to county coroners.
The backlog of bodies stacking up at the Los Angeles County crematorium rose so quickly at the beginning of the year that the coroner was forced to contract out cremations to two private crematoriums.
From the Los Angeles Daily News:
The county morgue, which is responsible for the indigent and others who go unclaimed, saw a 25 percent increase in cremations in the first half of this year over the same period a year ago, rising to 680 from 545.
Lt. David Smith, an L.A. coroner’s investigator said:
It's a pretty dramatic increase. The families just tell us flat-out they don't have the money to do a funeral.
After the county has cremated an unclaimed body, which usually occurs about a month after death, family can claim the ashes for a fee that ranges from $352 to $466, a half to a third less than what a private cremation costs.
Across the country, coroners and funeral directors are seeing the same trend. In Los Angeles it costs $200 just to claim a body.
According to the National Funeral Home Directors Association:
Funeral homes charge an average of $7,300 to transport and bury a body in a simple grave.
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