By Ernie Over


Fremont County Coroner Erin Ivie told the county commission this week that in the first half of 2023, there have been 159 recorded deaths. Of those, 76, or 47.7%, were coroner cases, one more than the previous year. Ivie said the number of “non-natural” deaths for the first six months accounted for 38% of the coroner cases, an increase from 28% one year ago. 

The number of accidental deaths numbered 23 (up eight), suicides totaled three (down two), and there were one pedestrian death and one ATV death. Ivie said there were eight vehicular-related deaths, two more than last year, and that two of the eight were drug/alcohol related with two other pending toxicology results. 

In relation to drugs and alcohol, the coroner said those substances accounted for 27% of the coroner cases and 44% of the non-natural deaths. “Drugs and/or alcohol were confirmed in both homicides,” she said, “plus one of the three suicides and confirmed in 10 of the 23 accidental deaths.”

Alcohol remains the number-one drug in related deaths (11) and methamphetamine is second (10), with three deaths including cannabis in the deceased person’s system. Ivie said fentanyl was present in two deaths and the same for prescription opioids. However, the coroner said there are six cases pending toxicology which she said may change the totals. “In some cases, a combination of alcohol/drugs were present,” she added.

In regards to autopsies, Ivie said there were 15 out-of-county procedures done at the county morgue in Lander in the first six months. Five more were not held due to the lack of necessary equipment, that is an X-ray machine. The county commissioners this week approved Ivie’s request for a portable X-ray system which should eliminate that issue. In addition, she said all but three of the autopsied have been paid for at this time by their respective county. 

In reference to recovery efforts involving Search and Rescue, Ivie said there have been two recoveries so far this year, one each in Lander and in Riverton. She said charges related to those recoveries are pending and may be covered by other state entities.