Coroner’s office runs out of room with increase in deaths in Horry County

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The Horry County Coroner says so many people are dying in the county, he’s running out of space.

Coroner Robert Edge says two times as may people die in a year in Horry County than when he first moved into his office in the M.L. Brown Public Safety Building twenty years ago.

“This year, I can tell you that we will log in close to 2,000 cases, and probably when we moved here, we were doing 800-900,” said Edge.

He says part of that problem is the Heroin epidemic.

“The Heroin epidemic is probably the biggest thing we’ve encountered since I’ve been here, and its been 20 some years. Years ago, we were having overdoses from pain medication, but nothing near the numbers that we’re having with Heroin overdoses,” said Edge.

With the large number of cases, he’s having to store cremated bodies across the hall in storage closets with their paperwork.

He showed News13 that closet and said a few months ago, before they had a mass burial, the shelves held about 75 cremated bodies.

Edge says his employees are on top of one another with four people sharing two desks. He says with the limited space, it’s not to have privacy for the tough conversations they have with family members who have lost loved ones.

“Normally, when we’re talking to a family, it’s about an autopsy report that’s come in or they’re calling and asking about a death certificate, or just general conversations with them sometimes,” said Edge.

In this month’s public safety meeting, Assistant County Administrator Justin Powell said they’re looking at the space in the old Ag building near the J Reuben Long detention center with hopes to move the coroner’s office there.

“If that can come to pass, I think that will be a good move for us. There’s privacy out there. There’s offices with some minor renovations that need to take place. If we move out there, we’ll be in good shape for a good many years,” said Edge.

Edge says if all goes well with plans to move into the ag building, he hopes to be in by the end of the summer.

He says with the growth in Horry County, his call volume is just going to go up, and he’ll likely have to look at hiring two more people to handle the calls in coming years.