King County traffic deaths, homicides decline in 2011

King County saw the fewest traffic deaths and homicides in more than 10 years in 2011, according to the King County Medical Examiner's (KCME) Annual Report released Thursday, Nov. 15.

There were 135 traffic deaths in 2011 compared to 150 in 2010. Homicides dropped to 54 in 2011 from 59 in 2010.

In contrast, drug-induced deaths are an increasing concern in King County. The number of deaths in which oxycodone was present increased by 30 percent, from 65 in 2010 to 85 in 2011.

The KCME 2011 Annual Report presents a detailed analysis of deaths that fell under KCME's jurisdiction in 2011, including suspicious, sudden, unexpected or violent deaths in King County, as well as trends in homicides, traffic fatalities and drug overdose deaths. The full King County Medical Examiner's 2011 Annual Report is available at, visit

"Medical Examiner death reviews support Public Health’s prevention efforts,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County. "We can target prevention efforts based on our understanding of circumstances, risk factors and trends of these deaths. For example, we're able to identify the leading causes of deaths from traffic crashes – including alcohol and drug impairment, speed, and failure to wear seat belts – and work to address them.”

Findings from the 2011 annual report include:

Compared with 2010, KCME saw fewer homicides and traffic deaths, and an increase in suicides.

More people died as a result of accidental overdoses (203) than traffic crashes (135).

In 2011, there were an estimated 13,355 deaths in King County. KCME assumed jurisdiction in 2,112 deaths and performed autopsies 59 percent (1,196) of the time.

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