Community Programs and Interests
- Request a Speaker or Program for your Organization
- We provide speakers and programs for just about any organization or group – Civic Clubs, Community Groups, Home Owner’s Associations, Churches etc.
- DUI – Don’t make us your Designated Driver! Guide lines for getting home safely!
- Don’t drink and drive
- Make sure you and your passengers are wearing your seatbelts at all times
- Obey the speed limit
- Don’t text and drive
- Use properly installed car seats and booster seats for children
- Watch our for motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians
- Keep your vehicle properly maintained-brakes, tires, lights, etc.
- Always obey traffic control devices-lights, signs, railroad crossings, etc.
- Pay special attention passing emergency workers ont he highway, but don’t rubberneck
- Use you headlights at all times
• Safe Sleep – Follow the ABC’s for Safe Sleep for children.
- A Always alone and Always in a crib.
- B Babies should sleep on their Backs.
- C Clear Cribs – no blankets, toys or other objects.
• Prescription Medications – There is danger in combining certain medications. Be sure that your pharmacist is aware of all of the medications you are taking.
• Children’s Programs – The Richland County Coroner’s office is always anxious to talk to children about safety. Visits to the classrooms and school-wide fairs are great opportunities to enlighten the student body of what the coroner’s office function is as well as the many interesting career prospects. Please consider inviting us into your school. Coroner Gary Watts or some of our Deputies would love to talk with the youth.
The Richland County Coroner’s Office assists the Richland County Sheriff’s Department with the CROSSROADS program. The youth, assigned to the program by their parent/guardian at RCSD Headquarters, have made some serious mistakes and have been arrested or detained by law enforcement. The program utilizes various speakers to show the participants the possible consequences of their behavior. Photos, illustrating different fatalities, are presented and discussed. The Richland County Court House holding cells are visited. The youth are also exposed to the Coroner’s Office freezer where unclaimed bodies are kept until they are cremated. Coroner Gary Watts believes that programs like Crossroads will deter the youth in Richland County from continuing risky behavior.
This program, sometimes referred to as “The Coroner’s Experience” or “Dead End”, is geared toward youth that have been disciplined at school or have committed a first offence. The students are assigned to the program by the court system. Completing the assignments will keep the youth from continued court proceedings for their current charges. The youth and their parents spend approximately 4 hours at the Richland County Coroner’s Office and are shown several videos and PowerPoint presentations to dramatize the consequences of continued bad behavior. Open dialogue is encouraged as is the reflection on their behaviors. This program includes a visit to the Palmetto Health Richland Morgue. The parent/guardian’s attendance is mandatory. Transportation to the morgue is provided by the parent or guardian.
Career Fairs and School Presentations
The Richland County Coroner’s office is always anxious to provide our schools and students with information about career possibilities. Visits to the classrooms and school-wide career fairs are great opportunities to enlighten the student body of what the coroner’s office function is as well as the many interesting career prospects. Please consider inviting us into your school. Coroner Gary Watts or some of our Deputies would love to talk with the youth about the education requirements and job outlook for the future in our chosen field. We also embrace the opportunity to discuss subjects like Texting and Driving and/or Drinking and Driving.
The primary role of the forensic anthropologist is human identification from skeletal, decomposed, or burned remains. The Richland County Coroner’s Office has a forensic anthropologist on staff. The anthropologist often works in collaboration with the forensic pathologist, forensic odontologist, DNA analyst, and sometimes the forensic artist in the process of identification. The anthropologist is involved, in many cases, in recovery of unidentified human skeletal remains from crime scenes using archaeological standards and techniques. These scientific methods of mapping and recovery allow reconstruction of the manner of deposition of the body, whether buried or on the ground surface. Following recovery of human remains, the anthropologist works, using scientific techniques and knowledge of human osteology, to develop a ‘biological profile’ of the individual, including estimation of the sex, age, ancestry or race, height and body size of the individual. The biological profile can then be compared to known missing persons or possible candidates for the identity. Unique individual characteristics of the bone and teeth from the unidentified person can then be used, in comparison with antemortem features (usually obtained from hospital or dental x-rays) to establish a positive identification. DNA testing is used in conjunction with anthropological methods, to establish the probability and certainty of an identification. Other skills and duties of the anthropologist include the assessment of skeletal trauma and its timing (whether it occurred antemortem (before death),
perimortem (around the time of death or in a fresh body), or postmortem (after death and decomposition), and the determination of the origin and age or remains (whether recent or archaeological). The anthropologist typically consults with other anthropologists for the purpose of peer review of cases and consultation with scientists with varied areas of expertise such as types of trauma and burning of bones. The anthropologist is also able to provide general estimates of the timesince-death or postmortem interval for skeletal remains. Frequently, anthropologists consult with experts in other scientific fields such as forensic entomology or forensic botany to establish scientific estimates for postmortem interval.
Burial Assistance and Cremation of Unclaimed Remains The Richland County Coroner’s Office provides for the cremation and burial of unclaimed remains of individuals who die within our jurisdiction. These remains are buried in the Richland County Cemetery.
Richland County Cemetery
The Richland County Coroner’s Office maintains the Richland County Cemetery, located in Columbia. The cemetery is used for the burial of unclaimed remains which have been signed over to Richland County by the next-of-kin for cremation and burial due to the family’s inability to make funeral arrangements. Individuals with no known or identifiable next-of-kin are also buried in the county cemetery following exhaustive searches and the placement of obituary notices. The Richland County Coroner’s Office conducts a burial service, directed by the Richland County Coroner, on average of two to three times every year for the interment of the unclaimed. Coroner’s Office personnel reach out to all family members and acquaintances of the unclaimed and invite them to attend the service. Grave markers are provided for each burial by the office. The location of each marker is mapped and maintained in a database by the coroner’s office and can be searched to locate individuals buried there.
Burial of Military Veterans
The Richland County Coroner’s Office makes every possible effort to determine whether unclaimed remains are those of military veterans. The Coroner’s Office is currently working with several veterans’ groups and staff of the Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia, to determine eligibility for burial in the National Cemetery, and to coordinate the release of cremated remains of veterans to the National Cemetery for funeral services and burial. Questions regarding the Richland County Cemetery or unclaimed veterans who die within Richland County should be directed to the Richland County
Coroner’s Office at (803) 576-1799.