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By the numbers: Medical examiner's yearly report

(Source: Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office)

Heart disease was the leading cause of death last year in Goodhue County, according to a yearly report presented Tuesday to county commissioners by the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.

There were 342 death cases reported to the office in 2015, which Chief Medical Examiner Dr. R. Ross Reichard described as “consistent.” Of those deaths, 51 were certified after postmortem examination.

Natural death was the most common manner of death among reported cases, he said.

Of the 289 natural deaths reported last year, 106 were labeled as cardiac and 75 as cancer.

The leading unnatural cause of death in 2015 was falls with 31 reported cases, followed by motor vehicle related deaths with nine reported cases.

County commissioners asked Reichard to look into deadly vehicle accidents on Highway 52, where the county has invested in recent interchange projects.

There were no homicides reported in the county last year.

The medical examiner’s office declined jurisdiction on a majority of the reported cases after they were investigated, Reichard added.

State law requires that all unexpected deaths or deaths due to factors other than natural disease processes be reported to the coroner or medical examiner.

Death investigations

Reichard has presented yearly death statistics to County Board since his office took over medical examiner services for the county three years ago.

His staff includes death investigators and five Goodhue County field investigators.

“Our death investigators are really our frontline folks for our office,” he said. “Those are the people who are responding 24/7, 365 to all the different scenes that really make the system and process work as efficiently as possible.”

Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office also performs autopsies and death investigations for Dodge, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Winona and Wabasha counties.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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