Victor Moreno, Captain 

175 South Lena Road
San Bernardino, CA 92415

(909) 387-2978

(909) 387-2989

Holiday Hours: 

Monday January 16, 2023, Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday.  Lobby will be closed.

Release Hours:
8:00 am - 4:30 pm, Monday - Friday.  No releases on county holidays.

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Responsibilities of the Coroner Division

The responsibilities of the Coroner Division are complex. By state law it is the responsibility of the Coroner Division to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner and cause of deaths (COD) which fall within its jurisdiction.  These deaths include any suspected homicide, suicide, or accidental deaths.  These also include any natural death were there either is no physician to sign a death certificate, or the physician is legally prohibited from doing so.  Additionally, other certain causes of death are also mandated to be investigated.

The manner and COD inquiries may require reviews of medical records, interviews with family members or witnesses, and postmortem examinations.  The forensic pathologists (FP) are doctors specifically trained in forensic pathology.  The FP’s perform autopsies, collect evidence, bodily fluids and tissue for toxicology testing and microscopic study.  Upon completion of these tests the FP’s analyze the results to determine COD. The COD is used to complete the decedent’s death certificate.  Evidence collected during autopsies and at the scene of the death can be used for criminal prosecution as well as determining COD.  FP’s are frequently called to court to testify as to the results of these examinations.  The coroner division is constantly on alert for deaths which may pose a threat to public health from communicable disease or through product liability.

The coroner division’s responsibilities also include the identification of decedents. Identification may be as simple as matching the decedent to a driver’s license or other identification documents.  The identification process may need to utilize fingerprints, dental records, body x-rays or DNA testing.  Identifying the decedent’s next of kin, notifying them of the death and securing the decedent’s personal property are additional responsibilities of the department.  In deaths where the decedent died at scene, deputy coroner investigators (DCI) are responsible for removal and transportation of the decedent.  DCI’s will also obtain information from family, friends, and public safety personnel regarding the terminal episode.  The DCI’s serve as the eyes, ears, and hands of the FP’s in the field.  The coroner division works with numerous medical and law enforcement agencies to understand how these people lost their lives, to seek justice, and bring closure to families.

Pending Death Certificate

After performing an autopsy, the forensic pathologist (FP) can issue a “pending” cause of death (COD) and “pending investigation” manner of death. A death certificate (DC) listing “pending” will be issued by the Department of Public Health (DPH).

After the FP completes the autopsy protocol (AP) report, the DC will be amended by DPH to reflect the official COD and manner of death. This process can take three to six months, and sometime even longer, due to the complexity of investigation, toxicology reports, histology reports and other testing and/or investigations that may be necessary to determine COD.

Death Certificate

Copies of DC’s are often needed to make insurance claims, collect pension benefits, transfer titles and to complete other official financial business. A pending DC can be used as proof of death. Some institutions will consider the pending COD document sufficient to complete certain transactions, such as closing accounts. However, many institutions (such as insurance companies) may not accept a pending DC and will require the official COD.

Answer: The decedent is transported to the coroner division in San Bernardino or, under certain conditions, directly to a mortuary/funeral home of your choice.

Answer: No visitation is permitted at the coroner division.

Answer: Contact a mortuary/funeral home of your choice to make arrangements for your loved one to be transported from the coroner division and later buried or cremated.

Answer: Certainly. You may call (909) 387-2978 any time between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. After normal business hours, you may contact the deputy coroner investigator assigned to your case by calling the same number.

Answer: Not always. If the death is a "natural death" and the decedent has a physician who knows the medical cause of death and will provide the coroner division with an acceptable cause of death, the coroner division will normally not perform an autopsy.

Answer: No. It is sometimes recommended to preserve the remains and is better for viewing by the family.  The coroner division does not embalm decedents transported to the morgue.

Answer: The California Department of Public Health established a web based system for entering information related to death certificates called the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). This system has been online for more than ten years now. A recent change to the system also altered the acronym from EDRS to IVRS (Integrated Vital Records system). The system records data for a death certificate by county based on the county where the decedent passed away.

The record in EDRS is created, most often, by the mortuary (or funeral home) that is providing the services for the decedent. Once they complete demographic information, the mortuary must “flag” the record as needing input from the coroner division. Once that information related to the cause of death is completed, the coroner division will certify their cause of death entry and the record is, again, “flagged” for the mortuary indicating that the record is “attested.” If the rest of the information necessary for recording by the local department of public health is present, then the record is submitted to public health where it is reviewed for completeness and correctness before being given a local record number. If the information provided is incomplete or incorrect, the record is sent back to the mortuary and the process for completion can begin again. After the local record number is given, the mortuary can apply for the burial permit. While this process usually happens quickly and seamlessly, there are occasions where obtaining the cause of death can cause delays. Also, challenges can occur when the information provided in the record is reviewed and declined by either the coroner division or the department of public health.

There are three ways that a death certificate gets signed and attested:

  1. The primary treating doctor of the decedent provides the cause of death and then certifies or attests to those cause or causes of death.
  2. A forensic pathologist assigned to the coroner division reviews the circumstances of the death and either performs an autopsy or reviews pertinent medical records, and provides the cause of death. The EDRS record entry is completed by coroner division personnel and then attested to by a deputy coroner investigator.
  3. The primary treating doctor reviews and refuses to provide the cause of death or refuses to certify the cause of death. In those cases, the coroner division attempts to determine if the primary doctor should be compelled to provide the cause of death and certify the record, or if the cause of death is accurate as provided, the coroner division certifies the death on behalf of the primary treating doctor.

Answer: There is no charge for an autopsy when the case falls within the coroner division's jurisdiction.  In cases where the coroner division would not, under ordinary circumstances, conduct an autopsy, the legal next-of-kin may request a private autopsy to be performed.  The charge for a private autopsy is $2,610.00.  Payable by cashiers check or money order.

Answer: Yes. Government Code Section 27472 authorizes the coroner division to assess a transportation fee. The Board of Supervisors approved the fee of $283.00 for removal.

Answer: The coroner division will complete the investigation as soon as possible and release the decedent to a mortuary/funeral home of the family’s choice. Mortuary/funeral home staff will work closely with the coroner division and will assist you in determining a time and date for the funeral.

Answer: The following is a list of the deaths the Coroner Division is required by law to investigate:

  1. Unattended deaths. (No physician in attendance or during the continued absence of the attending physician.
  2. Wherein the deceased has not been attended by a physician in the 20 days prior to death.
  3. Physician unable to state the cause of death. (Unwillingness does not apply.)
  4. Known or suspected homicide.
  5. Known or suspected suicide.
  6. Involving any criminal action or suspicion of criminal act.
  7. Related to or following known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion.
  8. Associated with a known or alleged rape or crime against nature.
  9. Following an accident or injury (primary or contributory). Deaths unknown or suspected which resulted in whole or in part from a related accident or injury, either old or recent.
  10. Drowning, fire, hanging, gunshot, stabbing, cutting, starvation, exposure, acute alcoholism, drug addiction, strangulation or aspiration.
  11. Accidental poisoning. (Food, chemical, drug, therapeutic agents.)
  12. Occupational diseases or occupational hazards.
  13. Known or suspected contagious disease and constituting a public hazard.
  14. All deaths in operating rooms and all deaths where a patient has not fully recovered from an anesthetic, whether in surgery, recovery room or elsewhere.
  15. In prison or while under sentence.
  16. All deaths of unidentified persons.
  17. Suspected sudden infant death syndrome (crib deaths).
  18. All deaths of state hospital patients.

San Bernardino County
Sheriff’s Department

655 East Third Street
San Bernardino, California 92415-0061

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Desert Phone NumberDesert – (760) 956-5001
Valley Phone NumberValley – (909) 387-8313