I-Team 8

Wait for death certificate in new online system hurts Indiana family

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana State Department of Health’s new online system to issue death certificates continues to disappoint Hoosiers.

Database for Registering Indiana’s Vital Events, or DRIVE, went live Jan. 4. Doctors and funeral directors have to register online in DRIVE and then, if the system is working properly, a death certificate should be issued within 48 hours

That didn’t happen after Peggy Brooks died. Her husband and their son still awaited a death certificate Friday for Peggy. The state has not responded to News 8’s multiple requests for answers on why the DRIVE system isn’t working. 

Francis and Peggy Brooks met in the late 1960s and married in 1968. Francis was drafted into military service two years later. Years later, he retired from General Motors.

Peggy spent her career working for a Delaware County school district.

Francis has cancer, and his health is failing quickly. He never thought he would outlive his bride of 52 years.  

“She always wanted to go on a picnic or on a camping trip, and loved to travel,” Francis said Friday.

Francis and his son Rich Brooks were lost when Peggy, the staple of their lives, she died unexpectedly Sunday. They had just left the house when Peggy slumped down her in her seat.  

“He put the car in ‘reverse’ and we started to go down the road, and she just slumped over, and I said, ‘Dad, she’s not breathing. Turn the car back around,’” said Rich.

She had chosen to be cremated. The funeral home wanted its money immediately.

To honor her wishes and access money in her estate, a signed death certificate is required. Rich and Francis had to pay the funeral expenses out their own pocket.

“There are people hurting like us. I know there (are) more people hurting than us, and we just need that death certificate signed. You shouldn’t postpone people’s funeral arrangements and everything else — cremations, obituaries — and threaten that kind of thing by holding up a death certificate from being signed,” the son said.  

The funeral home is registered with the new DRIVE system. Rich says he watched the doctor go online and register that afternoon. The funeral home and doctor must both sign the death certificate, but Brooks says the system isn’t working. He was told it could take two weeks or longer to get a proper death certificate.  

“I don’t understand why in the middle of a pandemic, with so many deaths, to implement a system that they don’t know how to operate and leave us all hanging, and it ain’t just us. It is thousands of other people waiting on those death certificates,” the son said. 

County coroners in Indiana can sign off on a death certificate during a public health emergency, which was finally done for Peggy’s cremation.

  • If you are having problems getting a death certificate and want to share your story, contact News 8’s Richard Essex at richard.essex@wishtv.com.


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