(Statehouse) April 27, 2007-Senate Bill 191, co-sponsored by Representative Larry Buell, was concurred upon by the House today. The bill will require coroners to complete an annual training course regarding death investigation, crime scenes, and preservation of evidence at a crime scene for police and crime lab technicians.
The legislation was drafted in response to events following a deadly accident involving students and faculty from Taylor University. Laura VanRyn's remains were mistakenly identified as fellow Taylor student, Whitney Cerek, leading Cerek's family to believe she was dead while VanRyn's family cared for her in a Michigan hospital. They believed Cerek was their daughter, Laura.
"This case of misidentification shocked the nation," said Buell. "It is unfortunate that it took a horrific accident like this to realize that coroner issues needed to be addressed. Specialized training courses for Indiana coroners will hopefully lessen the likelihood of this happening again."
Senate Bill 191 requires the coroner to positively identify the deceased by one of four specified methods, including fingerprint identification, DNA analysis, dental record analysis, or positive identification by at least one of the deceased's family members.
The bill will also prohibit disturbing a body, any evidence, and the scene of the death until the coroner has photographed the body and completed his/her investigation.
Senate Bill 191 will now move to the Governor's desk for his signature.