Medical Examiner investigated 57 deaths in Sibley County

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Fifty-seven deaths were investigated by Sibley County’s medical examiner in 2008, an increase from 33 in 2007 and 41 in 2006.

Dr. Janis C. Amatuzio, Sibley County Medical Examiner with the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, presented the 2008 annual Medical Examiner’s Report at the Aug. 11 County Commissioner’s meeting.

Amatuzio reported that of the 57 deaths investigated, 26 required scene investigations, and 11 required postmortem examinations.

Forty-six of the 57 cases were considered natural deaths due to natural disease or natural causes or conditions. Six of the natural deaths were hospice cases, those with a terminal disease who are to die at home and are registered with a hospice program and monitored by a hospice worker. There were no cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in Sibley County in 2008.

Seven of the cases were classified as accidental deaths. Three of the accidental deaths were due to motor vehicle crashes. Two males and one female died in motor vehicle accidents in Sibley County last year. This is an increase from one in 2007. A 23-year-old woman died of multiple blunt force injuries due to a two-vehicle collision on icy roads. A 25-year-old man died of blunt force injuries and was unrestrained and ejected from a vehicle that left the roadway and overturned. The third victim was an 85-year-old male who entered a parking stall when his vehicle accelerated, jumped the curb and struck the corner of the Gaylord Library, causing head and chest injuries.

There were four accidental deaths in Sibley County that were not caused by a motor vehicle. A 41-year-old male died of multiple blunt force injuries when he was pinned beneath the bed of a dump truck dumping silage at a farm. A 58-year-old female died of carbon monoxide toxicity from smoke inhalation in a house fire. Two people, an 80-year-old female and a 94-year-old male died of medical consequences of immobility from fracture from a fall.

There was one suicide death in 2008, a 19-year-old male. Amatuzio said that with the economy and stressors, the suicide rate has increased 1.4% system-wide.

Two homicide deaths – the taking of someone’s life – were investigated in 2008. The deaths were an eight-year-old boy who died from a gunshot wound while hunting, and a 42-year-old male who died of homicidal violence.

Amatuzio said that she will never forget the cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and crew regarding the case of homicidal violence. It was one of the first cases in the Midwest Medical Examiner’s new office in Ramsey. A full-body digital image was conducted that aided in the investigation, she said.

One death in the County, that of a four-month-old female, was classified as undetermined. The death was attributed to sudden unexpected death in infancy. A middle ear infection and prone sleeping conduction were listed as other significant conditions.

The Medical Examiner’s Office gave approval for 30 cremations in 2008, which is up from 15 in 2007 and 19 in 2006.

Amatuzio said that Sibley County has a “dedicated” core of eight death investigators and that there has been good cooperation with the area funeral directors.

Amatuzio will be retiring Jan. 31, 2010, but is confident that the system will continue to work well. She currently has three assistant medical examiners.

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