Declared dead by paramedics, young woman found alive at Detroit funeral home
The fire chief says paramedics attempted to revive the woman for 30 minutes.
August 24, 2020, 3:55 PM
5 min read
Workers at a Detroit funeral home discovered a young woman breathing hours after she was declared dead by paramedics and was sent to the mortuary by her grieving family, authorities said.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was found alive on Sunday at the James H. Cole Funeral Home and taken to a hospital, authorities said.
“While it is our practice not to comment on open investigations, we can confirm that on Sunday, August 23, 2020, we received a call to pick up a Southfield woman who was deceased,” the mortuary said in a statement to ABC News on Monday. “Upon her arrival at the funeral home, our staff confirmed she was breathing and called EMS.”
The woman was declared dead after paramedics responded to a home in the Detroit suburb of Southfield around 7:34 a.m. on Sunday on a call of an unresponsive female, Chief Johnny L. Menifee of the Southfield Fire Department said in a statement.
Menifee said the woman was not breathing when paramedics arrived at her home.
“The paramedics performed CPR and other life-reviving methods for 30 minutes,” Menifee said. “Given medical readings and the condition of the patient, it was determined at that time that she did not have signs of life.”
Since there was no indication of foul play, the paramedics contacted the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office as part of standard procedure and relayed the medical data about the woman they thought had died, Menifee 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,” Menifee said.
But an official at the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office told ABC News on Monday that it was not involved in declaring the woman dead and referred all questions to the Southfield Fire Department.
“In an effort to respect the privacy of her family, the Southfield Fire Department is not currently releasing personal information on the patient,” Menifee said in his statement.
Staff at the James H. Cole Funeral home contacted the Detroit Fire Department after they took the woman to the funeral home and noticed she was alive, Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner of the Detroit Fire Department, told ABC News.
Fornell said the call the fire department received from the funeral home was for a person having difficulty breathing and that an emergency medical services crew didn’t know the full story until they arrived.
“They did the normal medical interventions and that’s when the funeral home told them that she was to be embalmed and all that. It kind of surprised us. We couldn’t believe it,” Fornell said.
He said the woman was taken to Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit. Hospital officials declined to release information on her.
“I talked to our medical people and they said she was breathing, she had a decent heart rate, she had decent blood-oxygen. But she was definitely alive when we got here there,” Fornell said.
The Southfield Police Department is investigating the incident.