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Drug deaths up in county

November 2, 2012
The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County is experiencing an unusually high number of drug-related deaths this year -10 more than in 2011, according to a county coroner.

Coroner Margaret Luck said the increase has led to more expenses.

On Monday, she asked for and received permission from the Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee to transfer $13,035 from her office's payroll and conference funds to cover a funding shortfall through this year.

"We're trying to get through the next two months," Luck said.

She said her office, which also includes Coroner Art Simmons Jr., for the past few months has experienced an "unusual increase" of drug-related deaths.

She provided no figures on the number of drug-related deaths in 2011 or 2012. Denise Frederick, Fulton County Public Health director, this morning said her office doesn't have the data.

"These deaths, mostly occurring in homes and not being able to determine the cause at the time of the investigation, has led to additional transports, autopsies and extensive toxicology testing being ordered to determine the cause," Luck told supervisors.

The combination of those factors, she said, has led to her office's funds for lab, transport and autopsy accounts to become depleted.

"We had a lot of younger, unexplained deaths which aren't trauma," Luck said.

Luck said she is "just estimating" by requesting an additional $13,035 to get through the rest of the year.

She said that "historically, we have been known to be unfortunately busy during the months of November and December."

The full board will consider a resolution at its Nov. 13 meeting to transfer the funding to cover the coroner's



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