Coroner releases 2018 Death Statistics; drastic spike in homicides and drop in drug-related deaths

Local News

Local homicides are on the rise and, as we first reported, many of them result from domestic disputes.

The Erie County Coroner has released 2018’s Death Statistics. And, while some areas saw drastic spikes, others suggest a downward trend. 

We’ve reported numerous times about the unsettling number of murders, especially domestics, adding up in 2018.  The coroner’s data confirms what many have suspected all year.

In the report, the rise in homicides stands out, with 21 reported murders in Erie County.

Coroner Lyell Cook tells us, “Over a 50 year period, we average six a year, so that is considerably higher.” 

Out of the 21; 12 were a result of gunshots. 

Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny says the striking number of domestic homicides drove up the numbers in the county and the city. 

“It’s shocking that we had so many in one year, but of course, we in the city look at our numbers specifically here, and they’re not at the record-level like the county had, but we did have a significant number this year.” 

Another drastic change from 2017 to 2018 was the drop in drug-related deaths.

Cook says, “We went from 124 deaths the previous year to 82, which is still too many, but that’s a pretty good drop in one year. We don’t expect to see that. Most of our changes tend to be much more gradual than that.” 

First responders told us previously, the decline could be due in part to life-saving drugs like Narcan. 

David Basnak, Emergycare Operations Manager, tells us, “We’ve seen just here at Emergycare from 2016 to 2018, our overdoses decreased by about 30 percent, at least what we’re called to.”

But, the coroner says the numbers suggest drugs are still taking their toll on the community. Drugs were listed as a contributing factor in 39 percent of the 173 accidental deaths reported. 

Cook says the numbers are a little skewed because coroner’s jurisdiction is based on county of death, without regard for where the injury occurred.

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