The Main Stream

Nov 8, 2010 12:43 AM

The Investigators report on unclaimed bodies in Pima Co.

TUCSON - The tough economy and tight family budgets are taking a toll on the deceased.

Pima County is backed-up with the remains of dozens of people.

The reason is the county's working to find their relatives, or waiting for survivors to make decisions about how and where they'd like to bury them, if they can even afford to do that.

On the day we visited the Pima County Medical Examiner's office, the remains of 80 people were being held here.
And more than half of them have been There for over three months.

The county says the backlog of remains is worse than normal this year, to the point where they had to pull out a refrigerated truck to handle the overflow.

That's something they haven't had to do in five years.

Adding to the congestion here, Pima County has also had to handle the remains of several hundred border crossers this year.

But the bulk of those here are U.S. citizens, the indigent, the forgotten, and sometimes, the unidentified.

Last year, Pima County buried 175 people on a plot of land adjacent to Evergreen Cemetery. About a dozen of those buried were unidentified.

County officials say the bad economy has caused similar backlogs of bodies in other states and counties.

But they say burying all these people is a duty, and sometimes a struggle, that can't be put aside.

Last year, the total cost for the burials came to about $250,000.

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