A 20-year-old Michigan woman who was declared dead by paramedics was discovered alive in a funeral home
On Sunday morning, a 20-year-old woman in Southfield, Michigan was declared dead by paramedics and taken to a local funeral home. However, once she arrived there, the staff noticed something odd — she was actually still alive.
On Monday, officials in Southfield released details about the unfortunate event. According to Oakland County Medical Examiner Spokesman Bill Mullan, local paramedics arrived at the scene where they found a 20-year-old woman unresponsive.
“At 7:34 a.m. on August 23, 2020, Southfield Fire Department paramedics arrived at a home in Southfield on a call for an unresponsive female. When paramedics arrived, they found a 20-year-old who was not breathing. The paramedics performed CPR and other life reviving methods for 30 minutes. Given medical readings and the condition of the patient, it was determined at that time that she did not have signs of life,” reads a statement released by Southfield Fire obtained by Click On Detroit Local 4.
Believing she was dead, they called a nearby hospital where they shared vital signs with an emergency room doctor. He used that data to declare her dead. Then, the first responders called the medical examiner, sharing the same information. That forensic pathologist ruled there was nothing suspicious or criminal about her death. At that point, she was ordered to be sent to a funeral home.
According to Mullan, who wasn’t able to release details about the case due to medical privacy laws, the woman’s medical history was one of the factors responsible for the paramedics declaring her dead.
“In this instance, there was a medical history that said that (medical examiner involvement) wasn’t necessary,” he told NBC News on Monday.
However, according to Local 4, sources with knowledge of the investigation maintain that “Southfield police allegedly saw her move and breathe and called the fire crews back, but fire crews claim those were the side effects of the medication given to her.”
Once her body was taken to James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit, workers at the funeral home saw the woman they believed to be dead moving.
“You could tell she was breathing,” Cole spokeswoman Jocelyn Allen told NBC. “You can see a chest going up and down. They could see that.”
She was then taken to Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, and is currently being treated.
Mullan refuses to second guess the paramedics, ER doctor and his agency’s forensic pathologist in opting to declare her dead, according to the outlet. “I don’t have enough facts to make that call,” Mullan said, while adding: “I would consider this a rare circumstance.”
The Detroit Free Press reports that officials in Southfield attempted to clear up the error later that same evening, sending an announcement on behalf of the city’s fire chief under the subject line: “Mistaken pronouncement of death.”