PAW PAW — Nearly 10 people a week died in Van Buren County last year, with accidents claiming the most people from non-natural causes.
That’s according to the annual medical examiner’s report for 2018, which was presented to Van Buren County commissioners Tuesday by Dr. Joyce de Jong.
De Jong told commissioners the report contained many numbers. “I know they’re all numbers,” de Jong said, “but they’re somebody as well.” And all those somebodies had friends and family who cared about them.
In the county last year 514 people died. Of that total, 25 deaths were from accidents, 16 were suicides and five were homicides.
Among the accidents, four people died from falls, one drowned, one died from environmental exposure and one from asphyxia after being pinned beneath a vehicle.
Drugs also took a toll, causing 10 deaths. Nine of those deaths at least partly involved some variety of opioid. The youngest person was 25 years old. The oldest person was 75, with the cause listed as methamphetamine. Of the 10 listed, seven were white, two African-American and one Native American. Six were male, four female.
Of the16 suicides, 13 of them by males. Ten were between the ages of 18 and 64 and six above 65.
There were five homicides last year. Two were from firearms, the rest from trauma, including asphyxia. One was an exhumation from a 1986 cold case. Another was a child between the ages of six and 10.
There were 31 autopsies, two limited autopsies and 20 external exams. There were 55 referrals to the Gift of Life, eight tissue donations and three cornea donations.
Sixty-three percent of bodies were cremated.
In other matters, commissioners OK’d the placement of a buoy at the trailhead of the Kal-Haven Trail in South Haven. The trailhead is near the city skate park adjacent to the South Haven courthouse on East Wells Street and Bailey Avenue.
“The donor supplied two marine buoys at no cost,” County Administrator John Faul said.
The buoy will mark the western terminus of the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Route #1, which runs across the state from South Haven to Port Huron and consists of several trails. Cities along the way include Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Jackson and Pontiac.
The second buoy will be placed at Port Huron, which is on the St. Clair River and Lake Huron.