Benton Co. Coroner's Office dealing with backlog of toxicology r - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton Co. Coroner's Office dealing with backlog of toxicology reports

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BENTON COUNTY, WA - The Benton County Coroner's Office is dealing with a backlog of toxicology reports, with some results taking up to three months to come back.

Whether the death was drug-related or involved alcohol, the backlog of toxicology reports are partially due to the crime lab being short-staffed.

Although they have a whiteboard with multiple names - adults to children - whose families await a toxicology report, the Benton County Coroner's Office says that it's typical to tell these families that the report will take several weeks. But now, there are people on the board who have not received a report for months.

"It's very frustrating," said William Leach, Deputy Coroner for Benton County. "For us to have to talk parents, family members, or loved ones. Over and over and tell them the same story. 'It's not back yet, it's not back yet.' That reflects poorly on our office, and the county as a whole, and the state as a whole, if we can't get that closure from families when it's needed."

Another cause of the backlog could be that the agencies are drawing more blood. Leach says that it could be that there may be more drugs and marijuana involved in car accidents and DUIs.

Leach adds that the toxicology lab has received emergency funding from the state, which will be used to hire a technician and hopefully help keep the backlog taken care of.

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