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Jefferson County Coroner
Jefferson County Coroner Inadequate, incomplete death investigation and inacurate record Birmingham, Alabama
21st of Jun, 2011 by User462820
My mother drove my dad to a Drs. apt. at the VA Hospital on the morning of August 27, 2010 and never made it home. The trip to the city was less than 20 miles and she had traveled the same route hundreds of times. She was reported missing in the early afternoon when I picked my dad up and discovered that she was not at home. She was 83 years old. A public anouncement anouncement was not made until the next afternoon and within 30 minutes her body was found beside her car in an area of the city where she would never have gone. Her car had gotten stuck in a ditch and was at an angle where she could not exit through the drivers side of the car and she had crawled over the seat and attempted to exit head first. Both feet were still inside the car. The Coroner called me within the hour of hearing the news and I was very upset. He asked me a lot of questions and we only talked for a few minutes the one time. No one else contacted any family members. My mother's regular medical doctor was not contacted, her medical records and history was not reveiwed. She had visited her Dr. within two or three weeks of her death. She had never been diagnosed with heart diseaese or dimentia. She had been diagnosed with diabetes in October and she had both kness replaced several years ago. An autopsy was done. It was determined that the cause of death was complications of cardiovascular hypertensive. The autopsy revealed mild to moderate dementia. The manner of deat was listed as natural. The death certificate has space to fill in consequences and/or conditions of death. Part II of the death certificate ask for other significant conditions contributing to death. All of these spaces are left blank. The autopsy report reveals that my mother had a head injury. All questions related to injury on the death certificate are left blank. The time of death is pronounced only. No effort was made to determine an actuaL time of death. The autopsy report states that I said that my mother had gotten lost recently and was missing for about 30 minutes. I never said anything like that. My mother had not been lost or missing at any time. She still drove without problems, she wasn't disoriented or confused and she had her cell phone in her purse. I am very upset about the shoddy job the Coroners office did. I have many unanswered questions. I do not even know the exact location of the place where she died or about how her body was positioned in the car. I think she may have been trapped because she could not bend her legs, she may have suffocated or hada heatstroke. I wrote a letter to the Coroner and did not get an answer to these and other questions. It is particularly disturbing that my mother's death could have been avoided. The circumstances were accidental and I have no idea why she was in that area of town. I feel that the police were neglectful not finding her right away and not making a public announcement and this may have saved her life. I know that death records are important to society. For research, medical studies, grants and many other purposes. I want my mother;s last document to be accurate in the hope that others may benefit. What can I do?

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