on pushing and getting nowhere

When my brother died, it took the Erie County Coroner’s office more than two days to call any of my family members back. We called the police officer who initially reached out to me. We called the police department. We called the coroner several times. Nothing.

We had to physically show up at the office, a 40-minute drive from my parents’ home, to even ask for answers.

The coroner sat with us in the public waiting room — which also happened to be the public waiting room of a local doctor’s office — to discuss the circumstances of my brother’s death. My parents’ discomfort was palpable, and I was shocked that he was relaying such personal details to a newly-grieving family in such a public place.

The office’s willingness to speak with us in that moment was, I assume, due to the fact that my mentor and close friend is the managing editor of the local paper (which is where I got my start in media).

I told my friend about this delay in communication, and while he provided tips and feedback for moving forward, he also seemed surprised that so much time had passed with no contact.

I’m currently in the process of requesting more information from their office, such as a full coroner’s report. I will be keeping track of and publicly sharing my experiences, good and bad, as this moves forward. This includes today:

I called the Erie County Coroner’s office after their out-of-office lunch periods (yep, they’re one of those), and was told that the person I was asking for (a “Chris” listed on the Erie County Coroner’s website) was no longer there. I expressed the reason for my call, which was to request info on the best way to request a full coroner’s report, and asked who, then, would be best to speak with.

“Cathy,” the woman replied, “but she won’t be in until tomorrow. At 8 a.m.”

She was quiet after that, as if waiting for me to hang up. She didn’t offer to take a message for me, as most offices would.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll call back tomorrow.”

We’ll see how it goes.

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