So many bodies: Indiana coroners trying to keep up with opioid epidemic

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WTHR on November 16, 2017 by Bob Segall

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Alfie Ballew has worked at the Marion County Coroner’s office for more than two decades. She sees death every day, but even she is stunned by what’s going on right now.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said the chief deputy coroner. “This is a disease that is actually causing people to die at a rate that I have never seen in my 20 years of conducting death investigations.”

She’s talking about a nationwide opioid epidemic that has hit Indiana hard – killing more than 4,000 Hoosiers in the past decade. Last year, at least 277 people died from opioid overdose in Marion County alone.

“I don’t see that the numbers are decreasing at all. They’re continuously going up,” Ballew said, shaking her head. “It is scary.”

Across Indiana, other county coroners tell 13 Investigates they are seeing the same thing. The opioid epidemic is placing a strain on local resources – and on the investigators – as the overdoses and the death toll continue to rise.