Where will my relative or friend be taken?
He/She will be taken to the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office on Henry Cuellar Roadway, just off Hwy 59 in Laredo, Texas (Behind County Road & Bridge)
Why is the Medical Examiner’s office involved?
The Office of the Medical Examiner is governed by a specific set of laws called the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, specifically Article 49.25. Medical Examiners are also given the power and duties of the Justice of the Peace and those laws and duties apply as well. The following cases must be reported to our office:
- Deaths within 24 hours of admission to a hospital, nursing home or institution
- Unattended deaths (including those at home)
- When a person is killed (homicide or accident)
- When a person is found and the circumstances of death are unknown
- When it is believed that the death of the individual came about by unlawful means
- When the death is suspected to be a suicide
Do I have to come identify the body?
No. Most often a visual identification is not necessary. However, sometimes we may ask a family member or friend to view the person to assist in a positive identification.
Is viewing allowed?
Although we discourage viewing at the office, we can accommodate immediate family members if they would like to take a few minutes to have alone with their loved one. Viewings are done at the convenience of the office. Family members must be at least 18 years of age to view – no exceptions. Everyone must have a photo ID. A release form will have to be signed by every person viewing.
Will an autopsy be performed?
The decision is up to the Medical Examiner whether or not a complete autopsy needs to be performed. Family members’ concerns will be taken into consideration.
Will my loved one be viewable after the autopsy?
Yes- if they were viewable before. The incisions are easily covered by clothing. Injuries may prevent open casket viewings.
Are there any charges for the autopsy?
No. The services are provided by Webb County
What if we want to donate organs and tissue?
The Medical Examiner makes every effort to comply with family’s wishes for organ and/or tissue donation. To donate organs the person must still be on a ventilator and at a hospital. However, for tissue donation--corneas, heart valves, skin, bone etc - the tissue is harvested after death and some can be harvested as late as 24 hours following death.
What should I do once my loved one is taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office?
You need to select a funeral home. The funeral home will have you sign a release form so they can pick up your loved one when we are finished with the exam. The funeral home will contact us directly and we will let them know when the person is ready.
How long does my loved one have to stay there?
Usually we can release within 24 hours. There are rare instances in which we may need to hold him/her longer but in those instances we will let you know the reason for the delay.
What happens to the personal belongings?
If the next-of-kin is present at the time of death we will release the property there. Otherwise, the property will be brought to our office and we will release it to the family here or send it to the funeral home after a chain of custody is signed.
How do I find out the results of the exam?
You may obtain an autopsy report in person or request one be sent through the mail. We do need a request – we will not automatically send one out. There is no charge for the report to the immediate next-of-kin. You can always call the physician for a preliminary report before the autopsy report is ready.
How do I get the death certificate?
The funeral home will provide the Medical Examiner with the death certificate to fill in the cause and manner of death. The funeral home will then file the death certificate with the proper county. Please contact your funeral home about obtaining the death certificate on your loved one.