Horry County Coroner’s Office needs bigger facility to store bodies

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Horry County Coroner’s Office said its office is running out of space and it needs a bigger facility to meet the demand of the county.

Horry County Coroner Robert Edge has been a coroner for 33 years. “I’ve lived here all my life and I never thought that I would see this many people living here and all the houses being built and people moving in,” Edge said.

Edge said with more people moving into the county and the rapid growth, the facility can’t keep up. Edge said the county has gone from 125-150 calls per year 33 years ago and expects them to finish around 3,000 this year.

Edge walked News13’s Maria DeBone through the cooler where the bodies are held, saying they have space for 16 bodies but only have seven spots open. Five of the bodies are unclaimed people and four are John Does — and will stay there until claimed. One of them has been there since 2016.

“Let me say this. I’m not complaining,” Edge said. “Council has been very responsive to our needs but it’s hard to catch up when you’re already behind the ball.”

Edge said he’s working with the county to develop a plan, which could mean expanding the building or moving to a new location.

“Between unclaimed people and some that we don’t know who they are, we’re kind of getting maxed out and our ability to hold more people is diminishing everyday or every week with these people,” he said.

Edge said all spaces could be filled within a day, so what happens if there are no spaces left?

“Some of the funeral homes have facilities and we can call around to ask them to help us out and they’re real good about helping us so we place them there until we get room here to bring them back,” Edge said.

The bodies can’t be cremated because of a South Carolina law that was passed in 1994 that changed state law to say that unidentified bodies must be buried and not cremated. That’s after Michal Jordan’s father was cremated because there was nowhere to store the body.

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