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Idaho coroner won't perform autopsy in fatal car crash due to wishes of tribe, family

Olivia Pakootas
Olivia Pakootas

A tribe in North Idaho has come to an agreement with the local coroner's office to not perform an autopsy on a recently killed tribal member, KHQ-TV reports.

According to KREM, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe filed and won a restraining order Monday against the Kootenai County Coroner's Office to prevent an autopsy on the body of Olivia Pakootas, 21, who was killed in a car crash June 1. Pakootas' family did not want the coroner to perform an autopsy on the body as "it is a clear violation of their cultural traditions and their religious beliefs."

Court documents said Pakootas' family did not know where Olivia's body was for two days, as the coroner's office was closed, KHQ -TV said.

On Tuesday, KHQ-TV said the coroner's office and the tribe reached an agreement to abstain from the autopsy to allow funeral arrangements to begin.

Heather Keen, a spokesperson for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, told the Spokesman-Review that the coroner's office did not have to perform an autopsy on Olivia Pakootas, as there is no criminal investigation.

Idaho State Police said that Pakootas, a Plummer, Idaho, native, was driving on Idaho 58 on Friday night near Worley, Idaho, when she was unable to take a curve in the road, hit a rail and rolled off the highway before the vehicle landed in a field. Pakootas was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle, ISP said.

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