Four people in Carbon County died from heroin during 2013.
Carbon County Coroner Bruce Nalesnik issued his annual report and said drug-related deaths were the most common cause of the 37 accidental deaths he investigated.
Fourteen deaths were due to drug-related activity, Nalesnik said. In 2012, there were 11 drug-related deaths.
"Drug-related deaths have been a major part of accidental deaths for the past several years," Nalesnik said, "but compared to when I first took office to now, the landscape has completely changed with this spike in drug-related deaths."
The other eight drug deaths during the year were "in the mixed drug toxicity family, which can also include alcohol also a drug," the coroner said.
Nalesnik said he and his deputy coroners were summoned to process 374 cases in 2013.
Of the accidental deaths, the totals were:
Ÿ Drug-related activity 13
Ÿ Motor vehicle related 12
Ÿ Drowning 4
Ÿ Falls of some kind 3
Ÿ Positional asphyxia 1
Ÿ Electrocution 1
Ÿ Fire 1
Seven deaths were classified as suicides during the year. In 2012, 16 suicides were recorded.
There were no deaths classified as homicide in Carbon County during 2013.
There is one "pending" manner of death still under investigation, he said.
Forty forensic autopsies were performed under the guidance and authorization of the coroner's office.
"I would like to extend my appreciation and sincere thanks to all local police departments, the Pa. State Police, fire departments, and volunteer ambulance corps," Nalesnik said. "Their assistance at the scene is instrumental in conducting a thorough investigation."
He added, "I wish to express a note of appreciation to the Carbon County District Attorney's Office for their continued cooperation and support. We are also fortunate to have a dedicated and experienced group of deputy coroners that provide a professional and thorough service to Carbon County.
"In closing, 2013 was a very challenging year," he said.
"I wish to thank the commissioners for their continued cooperation in allowing the coroner's office to function in an independent, professional, and ethical manner. It is always my goal to provide an optimum level of service while at the same time not being a financial burden to the taxpayers of Carbon County."