The annual medical examiner report for Mille Lacs County presented to the board of commissioners during the regular county board meeting on Feb. 6 reported 191 cases investigated for 2017 which was down compared to 202 cases in 2016.

Dr. A. Quinn Strobl, Chief Medical Examiner of Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, explained to the board the report is for deaths that actually occurred within the boundaries of Mille Lacs County. If a person was transported out of the county to another county and later died, those people are not included in the report.

Strobl said her office performed a total of 27 autopsies in 2017 which was up from 22 autopsies in 2016. She added the reported deaths were all due to various circumstances.

Strobl cited a breakdown of reported death cases as follows: two homicide, two motor vehicle accidents, seven natural causes, 18 non-motor vehicle accidents, four suicides and 157 reported deaths but declined autopsies.

Of the autopsies performed, 24 cases included toxicology screens, one case included corneal donation and three included tissue donations.

Of all of the incidents of death discussed, those caused by drugs/alcohol/substance abuse drew the most attention from the board. Strobl reported there were 13 overdose deaths reported in Mille Lacs County in 2017. Commissioner Dave Oslin questioned that number, stating, “I heard there were 20 overdose deaths. Can you tell what part of the county the deaths occurred?”

Strobl said the exact location as to the city where the death occurred could be reported, but is not included in her report given to the board. She could make that available if needed. Strobl reiterated that her report only discussed the deaths that occurred in Mille Lacs County. If a death of a resident occurred in another county, it was not included in her report.

“It is good to see the truth come out. We heard a different number,” Oslin said.

Bradley Harrington, commissioner of the Mille Lacs Band Department of Natural Resources, oversees the enrollment and probate department for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. In a follow up question to the Mille Lacs Band Harrington reported there were 13 deaths of Band members in 2017 that were directly related to substance overdoses. Eight of the overdose deaths occurred in counties outside of Mille Lacs County and five of the 13 deaths did occur in Mille Lacs County, representing 38 percent of the total overdose deaths county-wide

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