Marshall County Coroner requests purchase of new, larger morgue cooler

Northeast Alabama
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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – The Marshall County coroner is in need of more storage space for bodies.

Currently, in the county that has roughly 100,000 people, there is only enough space to hold two individuals. The two-body morgue refrigerator is inside the Carr Funeral Home garage.

“A lot of folks are under the impression that the hospitals have morgues, that the funeral homes have refrigerated space and neither Marshall North or South have a morgue or cooling nor does any funeral home in the county,” said coroner Cody Nugent. “We can’t wait until it’s needed. It’s something we need to get in place.”

Nugent told News 19 Monday that sometimes it takes time for families to figure out what’s next after the passing of a loved one or for homicide investigations to continue, which can put the county in a tight spot.

Nugent said at one time during the coronavirus pandemic, there were nine bodies at once, so he had mobile refrigeration trailers brought in.

“The coronavirus did affect us a little bit. The funeral homes at one point started getting overwhelmed with individuals and so we had to start trying to assist them the best way we could, which is the reason refrigerated trucks were brought in. That’s the only option we had outside of our two-person cooler,” explained Nugent.

One option would be to use an outside facility, but that could be expensive.

“At that point, the county would have to look at the expense of transporting the individual, the expense of actual storage and all of that, so it would actually end up costing the county a good little bit, so having it in-house or in-county would save the county money in the long run,” said Nugent.

He told News 19 he hopes to get county commission approval on a bid to buy a new 10×10 morgue refrigerator that would increase capacity by 12 in December and have it ready for use in January.

It is expected to cost between $17,000 and $18,000.

The new morgue cooler would also sit inside the Carr Funeral Home garage.

“You can’t just place the cooler in any building or any facility, it has to set up to accept remains and hazardous remains, hazardous waste and things like that. If we don’t have a county facility, using a funeral home is the best option for us,” said Nugent.

Other area funeral homes will be able to use it if there is enough space and it does not impede on county business.

The Carr Funeral Home will pay the utility costs, while the county will pay for any necessary maintenance.

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