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County still looking at transport options

By Staff
Jonathan Willis
A week after learning that the state may no longer transport bodies to and from autopsies, county officials are still trying to decide what to do.
The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences announced last week that they would no longer transport bodies to autopsies.
In the past, the office would carry the bodies of those who died under mysterious circumstances to forensic labs in Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery or Tuscaloosa and then would return the body to the funeral home of the family's choice.
Last week, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences Director Michael Sparks announced the department had to cut 10 percent from its budget, which would total about $1.4 million. He said state law does not mandate transporting bodies and discontinuing it would save about $400,000.
That will have little effect on coroner's offices in larger counties such as Jefferson, which performs its own autopsies, and others who already transport bodies themselves.
But in the less populated counties, coroners are wondering how they will transport the bodies of those who die in homicides or do not have an apparent cause of death.
Franklin County Coroner Elzie Malone told the county commission Monday night that he was still looking for solutions.
Malone said he asked local car dealerships for bids on vehicles that could be used to carry the bodies.
Sheriff Larry Plott said he would be in Montgomery this week with the state sheriff's association and that group planned to discuss the matter as well.
Commissioners suggested contacting the state to see what the vehicles they had been using would be used for now.
Malone said the state would not be picking up bodies after Jan. 19.
Plott said the large van his department uses is not equipped for the transportation of bodies.
Gov. Bob Riley has set Friday as a deadline to decide whether or not to override the mandate.
"I'm hoping the governor will override that decision because this can't wait," Malone said. "This is something we just weren't prepared for."