A young woman who was declared dead in front of her grieving mother on Sunday morning is actually still alive, in a bizarre case that has shocked funeral home workers and outraged the victim’s family in Detroit.
The 20-year-old woman initially went into cardiac arrest on Sunday morning at her mother’s house in Detroit, officials say. Paramedics showed up at the scene and spent 30 minutes trying to revive her, according to the Southfield Fire Department.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, although paramedics say a doctor at a nearby hospital told them to make the call.
“They said, ‘Ma’am, she’s gone,'” the victim’s mother told local station WDIV-TV on Monday. She says she asked them if they were sure and they said: “Yes, ma’am.”
“Given medical readings and the condition of the patient, it was determined at that time that she did not have signs of life,” the Southfield fire department said in a statement.
“The Oakland County medical examiner’s office was contacted and given the medical data,” the department said. “The patient was again determined to have expired and the body was released directly to the family to make arrangements with a funeral home of their choosing.”
Staff at the James H. Cole funeral home were examining the victim when they realized she was still breathing. Then they called her mom.
“She’s breathing. She’s alive,” a funeral home employee said, according to the victim’s mother. “Your daughter is still breathing.”
Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner of the Detroit fire department, said the woman’s heart rate was 80 after the discovery.
“We couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“I’m devastated that my daughter is going through what she’s going through,” her mother said. “My family, her twin brother, her older brother … I don’t have words.”
The woman added that she wants to know who is responsible for wrongfully declaring her daughter dead.
“Somebody pronounced my child dead, and she’s not dead,” she said.
The unidentified woman was transferred to a hospital where her recovery remains uncertain.
— With files from The Associated Press