By Shari Harris, Publisher
Texas County Coroner Marie Lasater released her 2020 Annual Report. The county had 302 deaths and several goals set by the coroner for the year were accomplished.
Out of the 302 cases, 143 involved those on hospice or living in nursing homes. The coroner responded to 68 scenes and transported 31 cases. Autopsies were performed for 13 deaths, and toxicology results were gathered in 37 deaths. Fourteen COVID tests were run. External exams were conducted in 70 of the cases.
Natural deaths were determined in 262 cases, accidental deaths in 29 cases, and there were six homicides and six suicides.
The leading cause of natural deaths in Texas County in 2020 was cancer (52), followed by cardiac disease (36), myocardial infarction (heart attack) (35), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure (CHF) (31). Other causes included pneumonia, stroke, dementia/Alzheimers, COVID, pulmonary fibrosis, renal, liver disease, respiratory, pulmonary embolism, Parkinsons, influenza, diabetes, other viruses, or others.
The two leading causes of accidental death were overdose and falls (11 each), followed by motor vehicle accidents (5), and one each of anaphylaxis and asphyxia.
More than half of the deaths were in the 70+ age group. Only three cases involved someone under the age of 18.
Gun shot wounds were the primary causes of homicides and suicides in 2020.
Coroner Lasater’s office met many goals in 2020. Lasater achieved “Fellow” status and continued her certification by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators. She actively participated in Emergency Planning exercises and training. Lasater obtained over $3,800 in grant money for the Coroner’s Office. She completed the didactic portion of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) process and is now qualified to perform sexual assault examinations on the pediatric population. Lasater also participated in the opioid task force for this area.
Goals for 2021 include the following:
- Obtain Texas County Coroner office accreditation by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.
- Continue to actively participate in emergency planning in conjunction with the Emergency Management Director, particularly in regards to mass fatality events or deaths due to contagious disease.
- Continue to pursue grant opportunities with priority of funding for toxicology and a digital x-ray machine to minimize autopsy expense.
- Add a Deputy Coroner to the department to facilitate response times.
- Obtain full SANE board accreditation.
The full coroner’s report can be accessed at the Texas County Courthouse webpage, https://www.texascountymissouri.gov.