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Colleton Coroner gains national certification and advances local office

Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey is now a medical-legal death investigator with that national certification making him the eighth coroner in South Carolina to receive the honor.
Harvey has served as the county coroner for 28 years. This is an elected position. He is also now in his 36th year with the coroner’s office, since he served in the office before his being elected coroner. Prior to becoming coroner, Harvey was a paramedic for 21 years.
With his belief in a coroner needing a medical background, Harvey also still teaches pharmacology, basic EKG interpretation, advanced life support, and pediatric life support courses at area hospitals, including MUSC in Charleston. He has done this now for 35 years.
Harvey’s becoming a medical-legal death investigator is all a part of the growth happening at the county’s coroner office. Since he first started with the office, he has seen a tremendous spike in the number of cases that come to the coroner’s office each year. According to him, the coroner’s office handled about 100 cases in 1993, which is the first year that Harvey said he began keeping up with the number of cases coming into the office.
Now, there are approximately 500 cases that come through the Colleton County Coroner’s Office each year, he said. This is as of 2019.
Of these 500 cases, about 70 percent of these are deemed “natural deaths,” meaning a person has died from a natural medical condition or a natural death.
Harvey contributes this spike to the number of people who have moved to Colleton County and to the number of people who travel into the county each day.
According to Harvey, there can be anywhere from 10,000 motorists to 40,000 motorists who pass through the county each day on Interstate 95.
“We also see a growth in population, as part of the overall growth happening everywhere in the Tri-County area,” he said.
As a part of their daily duties, the coroner’s office is called to each death that occurs in the county, from natural death to a motor vehicle accident to a criminal case. Their handling of the deceased person includes notifying the victim’s family – something that Harvey is committed to doing in-person – to overseeing the autopsy of each victim. The coroner’s office also is heavily involved in criminal investigation cases with all law enforcement agencies.
As the coroner, Harvey is the leader of this county agency. He also has a Deputy Coroner, Wayne Walker, and a Chief Deputy, Richard Carter. The office also has a total of five volunteers: three of these are positioned through the county, while two of these five volunteers are designated at Edisto Beach. These volunteers and the chief deputy and deputy coroner are appointed and work at the pleasure of the coroner.
Harvey said he expects the coroner’s office to continue to grow, as he will also grow his professional capacity. The physical office space of the coroner’s office might also be expanding, as state and national leaders could require more certifications and credentials.

Heather Walters (1678 Posts)