Economy leaves bodies unclaimed

More Oregon bodies are being unclaimed by family and friends, following a national trend.

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Oregon could hit a record of 246 unclaimed bodies in 2009, a trend being attributed to the bad economy.

“We had nine in the last three months, which is many more than we would expect. Last year, we had 14 in six months,” said state medical examiner Dr. Karen Gunson. “Our impression is that people are having a harder time coming up with the cash, greater than a year ago, and probably due to the economy.”

Figures from the state Department of Human Services show that between Jan. 1 and July 31, funeral providers statewide cremated 144 bodies that were unclaimed by families or friends. If the rate holds, Oregon will have paid for the disposition of 246 people in 2009, 13 more than the high set in 2003.

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