Sheriff Jimmy Harris is concerned with an email he received from the Department of Forensic Science last week advising of a possible closure of the Huntsville Forensics Lab and Morgue. The lab closure would impact 22 north Alabama counties leaving only two morgue facilities open, one being in Montgomery and the other in Mobile. Any autopsies performed for us would have to be transported to Montgomery or Mobile.
DeKalb County would be in line with the impacted 22 North Alabama counties for autopsies and the South Alabama counties that they already serve now.
This could cause a serious significant back up and delays in autopsies. Family members could see a prolonged wait of 1-3 weeks possibly in being able to receive their loved one back for funeral services. Sheriff Harris discussed this situation with Coroner Tom Wilson last week. Wilson is also concerned, stating that every budget year they cut back or threaten to cut back. He is currently paid $65 per body to transport to Huntsville and either wait on the autopsy or come back the next day to pick up the body. Coroner Wilson is fine with traveling to Huntsville and doing whatever he can to help the county, but to have to travel to Montgomery or Mobile to deliver a body and have to come back to pick them up would put a real hardship on him and his facility. Wilson stated that he would do whatever was necessary to work with the Sheriff’s Office and make it as easy on the family members as possible. Both Harris and Wilson hope that the House and Senate will come up with a solution and this can be avoided.
Sheriff Harris states “Any time anyone loses a family member, it is a hard time and a prolonged wait would put unnecessary hardship and stress on family members and we hope that this does not happen.”