OFFICE OF BENT COUNTY CORONER JASON NICHOLS
The County Coroner is responsible for the certification of all deaths that fall under the Coroner’s jurisdiction. Coroner’s Office is staffed with the Coroner Jason Nichols and Deputy Coroner Rod Coulter. A member of the Coroner’s Office is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to certify deaths in Bent County.
The Office of the County Coroner is established by the Constitution of the State of Colorado. The Coroner is elected to serve by the citizens of Bent County. The Coroner’s Office is a separate and independent division of the Bent County Government. The Office is funded through the Bent County General Fund. The Coroner and staff recognize the tragedy surrounding an untimely death and perform investigations, in part, to assist the grieving family.
A complete forensic investigation provides for the expeditious settling of insurance claims and estates, as well the implementation of civil and criminal actions. Questions which seem irrelevant in the initial hours after death can become significant in the following months. The surviving family and general public can have the peace of mind that a complete investigation was done. The Coroner works in cooperation with the Bent County Sheriff’s Office but conducts a separate investigation. Although criminal death investigations constitute a small portion of deaths investigated by the Coroner, these deaths are studied in great detail because of the issues and legal consequences involved. In this way, the criminal justice system is offered the best support.
The public health dimension of the Coroner’s function is designed to isolate and identify causes of sudden unexpected death. When an infectious agent or poison is implicated in a death, the family and persons recently in physical contact with the deceased are notified in order that they might receive any needed medical treatment. The El Paso County Coroners Office has the only on site Forensic Toxicology lab in Colorado, they preform toxicology studies for many other Colorado Counties including Bent County.
The Coroner’s Office determines the cause of death under any of the following circumstances:
- Disease that may be hazardous or contagious, or that may constitute a threat to the health of the general public
- External violence, unexplained cause or suspicious circumstances
- When no physician is in attendance, or the physician in attendance is unable to certify the cause of death
- Thermal, chemical, radiation injury or criminal abortion
- When death occurs while in the custody of law enforcement officials or while incarcerated in a public institution
- When death is sudden and occurs from an industrial accident while person is deemed in good health
- When death occurs in a hospital less than 24 hours after admission
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Bent County Coroner’s Office extends our deepest sympathy to you during this difficult time. We hope that the information contained here will assist you by providing answers to commonly asked questions.
WHY IS THE CORONER INVOLVED? Colorado State Law requires that the Coroner be notified on certain deaths such as violent or sudden unexpected deaths. The Coroner must then determine the cause and manner of death.
WHERE WILL MY LOVED ONE BE TAKEN? If an autopsy is going to be done he/she will be taken to the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. If an autopsy is not needed, he/she will be picked up from the residence or hospital by the funeral home of the family’s choice.
IS AN AUTOPSY ALWAYS PERFORMED? No. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis. When there is additional need to establish the cause and manner of death, an autopsy will be performed by a Forensic Pathologist.
WILL I BE CHARGED FOR THE SERVICES OF THE CORONER? No.
IS IT NECESSARY FOR ME TO GO TO THE MORGUE TO IDENTIFY THE BODY? No. In most cases visual identification is not required. Should it become necessary for you to come in or if we need further information, we will contact you.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE BEFORE MY LOVED ONE IS RELEASED FROM THE CORONER’S OFFICE? Generally the investigation and autopsy, if needed, should be done within 48 hours. The funeral home that you choose will coordinate the release on your behalf.
WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? The family needs to choose a funeral home to handle the final arrangements. After the choice is made you will need to contact our office and inform us of your choice. When a funeral home is chosen they will set an appointment for you to meet with them and discuss your options. A list of funeral homes can be obtained from our office or can be found in the phone book.
IF THERE ARE NO FUNDS FOR FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS, WHAT CAN I DO? The family can seek assistance from government and non-government sources. Your funeral director can give you that information.
WHAT ABOUT ORGAN DONATION? Organs (heart, lungs, liver, etc.) can only be obtained from someone who is declared brain dead in a hospital setting. Tissues (bone, heart valves and skin) and corneas can be obtained up to 24 hours after death. Our office can provide you with phone numbers of the appropriate agencies if you wish to have more information.
HOW DO I OBTAIN A DEATH CERTIFICATE? Death Certificates are filed with the Office of Vital Statistics by the funeral homes. You can obtain copies from either the funeral home or the Office of Vital Statistics: 719-575-8492.
HOW DO I OBTAIN COPIES OF REPORTS? If an autopsy was performed by the El Paso County Coroner’s Office and you would like a copy. You must request a copy from Our office, Bent County Coroner at 719-456-1363. Please call during office hours to make that request. If a law enforcement agency is investigating the death, you may obtain a copy of that report from that agency. PLEASE NOTE: It takes varying amounts of time to obtain these records and reports. Please ask officials when to expect the copies.
HOW DO I OBTAIN THE PERSONAL POSSESIONS? Any personal possessions that were taken by the Coroner’s Office will be inventoried and then released with the body to the funeral home. Any personal possessions that were taken by the law enforcement agency will be inventoried and can be released at the conclusion of the case.