Columbia Co. Coroner: New trailer would help with load

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News 12 at 11 O'clock / August 21, 2014

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- "Well, you can make one trip," said Vernon Collins who's the Columbia County Coroner.

A trip he knows like the back of his hands. A trip that means a quicker grieving process for those who've lost someone.

"Families want their loved ones back," he said.

Collins expects his office to answer more than 230 calls this year. And when there's no where to put bodies, he's on the road to an autopsy lab in Atlanta. In a two-week period, Collins has logged more than 2,300 miles on the road traveling back and forth.

Now he's asking for a little help for something he thinks will help a lot. It's called a mobile morgue trailer.

"They can be an asset not only to the Coroners office in Columbia County but any surrounding county," said Collins.

We spoke with Mark Bowen, the Richmond County Coroner, and says the county does have a mobile morgue exactly like the one Collins is requesting. A News 12 investigation showed trips to Atlanta have already cost Richmond County taxpayers more than 12,000 dollars this year alone. It's also cost families time and tears, in a painful waiting game for answers.

"All of them are going to Atlanta, and you know, they would do the Autopsies in probably two days," he said.

The refrigerated trailer costing close to 40,000 bucks can hold up to a dozen bodies

"A true disaster such as an airplane crash," he said.

Like the Thomson plane crash where five were killed.

"Preserve evidence or whatever to get them out of the crime scene," said Collins.

The quickness of this process means families of loved ones can have closure much sooner.

"It helps the whole system when you can remove these people in an appropriate manner," he said.

In case of a disaster in other counties, Collins is already on board to help. An emotional process he says can never be taken lightly.