Coroners pushed for faster response

Highways closed after car crashes, often because of wait for coroner

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
November 20, 2012 01:00 AM

Regional politicians are pushing the B.C. Coroner's Service to provide faster response times to highway tragedies.

Letters from the Southern Interior Local Government Association were sent to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board and Kamloops City council asking for feedback on the matter of highway closures following deadly accidents.

Regional director Tim Pennell represents the TNRD on SILGA. He brought the matter to the association when a collision in the Fraser Canyon shut the Trans-Canada Highway down for five to six hours.

"Some of the delay was waiting for a coroner," he said.

SILGA meets with regional coroner Larry Marzinzik in January and wants to bring a list of questions and concerns to his attention. Pennell wonders if there is a way to expedite a highway's opening after a crash.

He said there are fewer coroners in the province who are responsible for large geographical areas. If there is an accident and one coroner is off and another is busy, the response time can be quite long.

"SILGA wants to meet and see what the protocols are and see if there's a lack of staff," said Pennell. "We want to know if they are having issues and what we can do to help."

Alison Slater, SILGA's executive director, said the association is looking for information and concerns to bring to Marzinzik's attention.

"With coroners being part time, it can take them a while to get (to a crash scene)," said Slater.

Marzinzik told The Daily News he will provide SILGA with general information about the service's policies and processes when investigating a fatality.

A coroner is the only one who can authorize a body's removal from a crash site, he said. The one exception is if the body is put at risk by something like a fire. Then emergency responders can act.

He said there are coroners in major centres but not every small town. But Marzinzik is unaware of any issues when it comes to responding to an accident.

SILGA is comprised of elected officials from cities, towns, villages, districts and regional districts in south central B.C.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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