Counties left hanging after DFS deadline

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- Local coroners are scrambling for solutions as the deadline arrives.

"For the past several years, we've probably averaged about 25 or 30 autopsies a year...so that's what we're looking at," explained Robert Byrd, Houston County Coroner.

Monday, the state's Department of Forensic Sciences stopped the transport of bodies.

Simply put, if counties need an autopsy performed, they'll have to pick up the tab.

"It's time we got our ducks in a row," Byrd said.

"It's something that we'll have to look at on a big picture basis," explained Bill Harris, Chairman of the Alabama Coroners Association

DFS announced the death of their statewide service more than two weeks ago.  Since then, county commissions and law enforcement agencies started looking for money.

"We'll have to be a little more micromanagable with the things at hand...making sure we send the people that need to go," said Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry.

It's tough for some coroners, especially in counties far from state labs in Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery.

Many coroners don't have morgues or vans. Those that do still need help.

"We don't have the drivers.  The city police, if they have someone available, that can drive our vehicle, we could do that," Byrd said.

Hurdles to jump as a once reliable service falls victim to a slow economy.

"Every case that needs to be autopsied..will be autopsied. We'll take care of it somehow," Byrd explained.