Every year, dozens of bodies go unclaimed at the Kern County Coroner's Office.

And this year, that number is on pace to far surpass the amount of unclaimed bodies from the year before. 

According to officials at Historic Union Cemetery, the cemetery has received the cremated remains of 96 people from the coroner's office as of June 9, a number that includes both remains that went unclaimed by families and remains for which no surviving family member could be found. 

Sometimes a family that doesn't claim the body simply can't afford the costs of burial, said Jose Leyva, the cemetery's director of operations. Not having life or burial insurance can put the price of burial out of reach, and a family may decide to let a loved one be interred through the county instead. 

"It's economical," Leyva said. "It's pretty tough out there."

The coroner's office stores a body for a certain amount of time before cremating remains that go unclaimed. Those remains are then sent to the cemetery and stored in a mausoleum on the property. 

They stay in the mausoleum between 18 months to two years, said Hurtado, then the urns are buried in a permanent spot on the grounds. Specific urns can still be located even after burial if family members show up to claim them. 

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