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SEE ALSO: Three Republicans vie for York County coroner

An incident involving an in-morgue viewing last year is drawing attention as the race for the Republican nomination to be York County coroner becomes heated.

Incumbent Coroner Barry Bloss is defending the candidate he has endorsed as his replacement, his brother-in-law Steve Cosey. Bloss said he authorized the breach of York Hospital morgue protocol that one of Cosey's primary opponents calls "concerning."

But candidate Pam Gay said she recently learned that Cosey had been restricted in access to the morgue and "It shows a need to have a policy and procedure manual in place."

"'Concerning' is the word that comes to mind as I learn about this information," she said. "... In regards to the primary election, the voters will have to determine the relevance of this disclosure when they cast their ballots."

The woman who Bloss said reported the incident, Onalee Gilbert, is one of Cosey's co-workers and a competitor on the Republican ticket to take Bloss' seat.

She confirmed the incident occurred, but declined to discuss it.

What happened: Cosey said his access to the county morgue was revoked for a "brief period" last year when he violated a procedure, requiring him to be accompanied by a York Hospital employee while in the morgue.

He declined to elaborate on the circumstances.

Bloss said the incident occurred last September, before he announced retirement plans.

Cosey allowed a family member to view a body in the morgue, which isn't "generally allowed because it's just not a good viewing situation."

"He had a circumstance and ran it by me and I said, 'Go ahead,'" Bloss said.

A son wanted to see his deceased father, he said.

He said the situation was "blown out of proportion" because Gilbert reported it.

Cosey never was denied access, though it had been threatened by morgue supervisors, Bloss said. York Hospital staff has no authority to discipline the coroner's staff, he said.

Discussing the incident now is the result of "dirty games by someone who's attacking a front runner," he said.

Cosey, Gilbert, and Gay are running for the position as Republicans. Democrat Kay Strausbaugh is also running.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at