Gone but not forgotten — 2019

Photo credit: Joshua Trujillo, seattlepi.com

Every few years, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office (KCMEO) hosts a unique memorial to ensure that every King County resident is remembered. Those who died without resources or family to claim their remains for a proper burial are looked after through the work of the county’s indigent remains program.

The next ceremony to remember these individuals will take place on Wednesday, July 10th, at 1 p.m. at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Renton (100 Blaine Ave NE). It’s open to any member of the public who wishes to pay their respects.

Answers to common questions about the program:

How long has King County provided this service and how does it work?
The first ceremony took place in 1993, and they are held on an as-needed basis. When no one with the necessary resources for burial is available, the remains are looked after through the KCMEO’s indigent remains program.

The KCMEO exhausts all efforts to identify family members who may be able to take the remains, but when no one can be found who can do this, the remains are cremated and buried them. In some cases, the KCMEO is able to find family, but the family can’t always bear the cost of burial services.

What is the ceremony like?
Clergy from several denominations are invited to read the names of each individual decedent, and the KCMEO works with local organizations and agencies to reach out to people in the community who may have known them. Each burial is marked with a stone plate, which includes the date and an inscription.

How are the remains buried?
All remains are cremated, placed in individual containers and buried in the same area of the cemetery. Even though the burial includes the remains of (in this instance) 302 people, each individual’s remains are separated and identifiable by a unique number inside the tomb. A 3-D map is used for reference in case family members are found, so remains can be retrieved.

What do we know about the 302 people being buried next week?
The names of the decedents can be found online. Some were people living homeless at the time of death, while others had housing but did not have funds or family to cover for a proper burial. All of them died between 2016 and 2018.

What if family members identify a loved one scheduled to be buried?
If you are a family member of one of the individuals listed, and wish to retrieve their remains for a separate burial, please contact the King County Medical Examiner’s Office at 206-731-3232, extension 5.