VIDEO: 2 gurneys, 1 with body, tumble out of coroner's van in traffic
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Thurston County coroner's office is investigating after two gurneys, including one carrying a deceased body, somehow fell out of a van and into rolled into traffic in Olympia Monday afternoon.
The van was on its way back to the coroner's office just before 12:30 p.m. after responding to a death at a home.
Olympia Police said the two gurneys fell out of the van at Martin Way E. and Phoenix Street SE. One of the gurneys with a body tipped over in the middle of the intersection.
"I was like, 'oh my word, there's a body in the middle of an intersection outside," said Lauren Cloninger who saw the overturned gurney.
"Is that a gurney in the middle of the road?" said Patty Cloninger who also witnessed the incident. "And so we immediately came out and looked."
VIDEO WARNING: Some may find this video disturbing. Video of scene after gurney with deceased body fell out of coroner's van in Olympia Monday. (Video courtesy: Sydney Fox)
The other gurney rolled about a block down Phoenix street and was found in a parking lot near Pacific Ave SE.
Olympia Police said a couple of officers happened to be nearby as calls came in and were able to divert traffic away from the area.
"It was a shock," said Randy Reynolds. "You didn't believe what you saw. It was a gurney with a body."
Dispatchers alerted the coroner's office and the van returned to the scene. The driver said they hadn't noticed the gurneys were missing.
It took about 15 minutes to reload the gurneys and clear the area.
The coroner's office said there was no trauma to the body on the gurney and the family was notified.
They're now looking into how the incident happened, including whether it was caused by an operating error or if the door locking system failed.
The driver of the van has been placed on paid leave during the investigation.