JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee is meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the overcrowding inside the Duval County morgue.
The morgue received 10 more bodies on Friday, just one day after an I-TEAM investigation found that the facility is overcapacity.
Internal emails obtained by the I-TEAM detailed a disturbing scene at the Duval County morgue: A body on the floor, bodies on racks, no more trays and no more room to even perform simple autopsies. As of Thursday, at least 52 bodies needed to be autopsied this week, when the maximum is 50.
The I-TEAM learned on Friday that 10 more bodies had been brought to the morgue. With only a handful of examiners to conduct autopsies, the additional 10 bodies not only slow down the process, but force examiners to find another alternative storage, as there's not enough space to hold them in regular storage area of the facility.
On Friday, the I-TEAM asked if the chief medical examiner would be available to talk about the overflow of bodies that had arrived at morgue, and was told she was there and in the middle of a procedure. Fifteen minutes later when the I-TEAM arrived, she had already left.
Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis said Friday that his office has been receiving emails from concerned loved ones who saw the I-TEAM's report, and they're all asking the same questions.
“'Is it my family member who’s on the floor? I hope not,'" Dennis said. "It tugged me today, so we have to do something. We can’t sit back and put our heads in the sand.”
The issue will be presented at the next city finance committee meeting Tuesday to discuss solutions.
Dennis told the I-TEAM he's going to ask the auditor's office to look for more money, and consider short- and long-term solutions.
“A building is long-term. That’s going to be a few million dollars to build a building," Dennis said. "But we can look at some short term things such as a refrigerated trailer.”
Ten bodies in one day seems like a lot, but according to Dennis, there was one occasion when 30 bodies were brought to the morgue in one day.
The nation's opioid crisis and gun violence have contributed to the many bodies being sent to the morgue. Out of the list of 10 from Friday, the causes of death included three from drug overdoses and four from fatal car crashes.