Number of unclaimed bodies for coroner's office on the rise

BILL MARDIS I CJ

Pulaski County Coroner Clyde Strunk, left, and office manager David Muse look at records of unidentified bodies handled by the coroner's office this year. The total of six unidentified bodies so far this year exceeds the five unidentified bodies buried last year.

The Pulaski County coroner's office has already handled this year more unclaimed bodies than in all of 2018.

Pulaski County Coroner Clyde Strunk said two indigent burials since the Memorial Day weekend have pushed the total this year to six. Last year, the coroner's office handled five indigent burials.

A 49-year-old African American male drowned Saturday, May 25 in the Buck Creek section of Lake Cumberland while vacationing with his girlfriend and several other people. The victim was from Louisville.

Danny Karriker, deputy coroner and assistant chief of Somerset-Pulaski County Rescue Squad, told the Commonwealth Journal the man's girlfriend told authorities the victim's parents were from out of state and were deceased. His body was recovered from the lake at the end of Rush Branch Road in about 60-05 feet of water, Karriker said. The name of the man has not been released by local authorities.

"We came up with three different addresses but we were unable to tell exactly where he lived," Strunk said. No family members were located and the drowning victim eventually was buried in the Science Hill Cemetery where burial plots for unclaimed bodies have been donated by Science Hill Cemetery Association. Pulaski County government pays for burying indigent and unclaimed bodies.

A 72-year-old man died May 25 at his home in Burnside. Strunk said no family could be located and the man, a veteran, was buried at Mill Springs National Cemetery. The Veterans Administration paid for the burial, Strunk said. The man's name has not been released.