Vernon W. Collins
439 North Belair Road
Evans, Georgia 30809
Sheriff's Office 706.541.2800
The Coroner’s Office for 2016 had 270 deaths. This includes a variety of deaths from natural, fire related, auto accidents, and other causes. The Coroner’s death investigations are in conjunction with law enforcement agencies including the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Harlem Police Department, Grovetown Police Department, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, State Fire Marshall, Federal Bureau of Investigation and District Attorney.
Our primary responsibility is to determine the cause and manner of death and maintain a chain of custody. All deaths are different and some have unusual circumstances. No two deaths are alike. Autopsies are performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation when requested by the Coroner. The results of our death investigation may result in criminal and civil liabilities.
The office will respond to any county that requests our assistance in the event of a disaster.
We have seen a decrease in the number of fatalities with our young people, which I feel is due to increased public awareness. A continued effort by the Sheriff’s Office, Harlem Police Department, Grovetown Police Department, local schools, the news media and our courts have made a positive impact, resulting in fewer teenage fatalities.
The Coroner has been a member of the Georgia’s Coroners Association for the past 27 years and a member of the local Child Fatality Review Board, which is mandated by the Governor to review all unattended children’s deaths from newborn up to 17 years of age.
I am a member of GBRT K-9 Team (Georgia’s Body Recovery Team K-9 Team) which is a governmental task force agency under the auspices of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). The GBRT K-9 Team is used to assist in a variety of missions; these include searching for lost or missing persons. This may include victims of homicide, suicide, drowning, persons with Alzheimer’s, natural disasters, floods, tornadoes, collapsed structures. The GBRT K9 Unit is also part of the State of Georgia’s Child Abduction Response Team. The mission of the GBRT K-9 TEAM is “Returning the lost with dignity and respect.” The GBRT K-9 Team was request by GEMA to search for victims April 24, 2011 in Riggold, GA, when a powerful EF4 tornado hit the small town of Riggold,GA, resulting in 8 deaths. The team will respond when requested by any law enforcement agency.
The Coroner’s Office is responsible for death notification, which is the most difficult part of our job. The Coroner’s office will offer the next of kin counseling, when requested, to help cope with the loss of a loved one.
By Vernon W Collins
Staff: Vernon W Collins
Chief Deputy Coroner