CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County Coroner’s Office has been awarded nearly $50,000 in grant funds that will help employ a forensic autopsy technician for a second year.

The grant comes from the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant which is administered by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs.

According to the coroner’s office, the funds will continue to employ a forensic autopsy technician who assists with the examination and documentation of forensic findings during forensic autopsies that are completed at the Charleston County Coroner’s Office.

Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal said that between the opioid epidemic and a rise in the number of homicides and pedestrian and car accidents, these funds are crucial to helping provide compassionate care to those who have died and their families.

“One thing that is important for citizens in Charleston County to know is that there are national standards to when autopsies are done, so we want to meet those national standards,” she said.

In 2022, the coroner’s office completed 606 forensic autopsies; 439 of those were conducted at the coroner’s office while the remaining 167 were completed at a local hospital.

Officials expect that number to keep rising in 2023.

Coroner O’Neal said getting this recognition from the federal levels is a testament to the county operating so well. And that’s why they are receiving another year of support in the form of this $47,835 grant.

“This grant is potentially a three-year grant. So, this is our second year of funding- we will apply for a third year when applications come due, and I would likely suspect that we will receive the third year as well. And again, that is a great benefit to Charleston County taxpayers because this money comes through a federal grant,” said Coroner O’Neal.

The autopsy technician will assist with examinations and the documentation process.