NEW YORK • A Michigan woman who was declared dead by paramedics on Sunday was discovered alive hours later by a funeral home worker who was preparing to embalm her body, a lawyer for her family said.
The lawyer, Mr Geoffrey Fieger, said Ms Timesha Beauchamp was born with cerebral palsy. "She's required constant care since birth," he said on Tuesday. "I believe her relative fragile condition contributed to the false belief by the authorities" that she had died.
For Ms Beauchamp's family, it has been an agonising couple of days. First they were told she had died, only to learn later that she was somehow still alive. On Tuesday, she was fighting for her life at a Detroit hospital. The ordeal prompted them to hire a lawyer to try to get to the bottom of how such a thing could have happened.
Around 7.30am on Sunday, paramedics responded to a call about an unresponsive woman at a home in Southfield, Michigan, north-west of Detroit, Chief Johnny Menifee of the Southfield Fire Department said in a statement. Mr Fieger said at a news conference on Tuesday that Ms Beauchamp's family had made the emergency call.
When the paramedics arrived, they found a 20-year-old woman, later identified as Ms Beauchamp, who was not breathing. "The paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-reviving methods for 30 minutes," Mr 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."
Later on Sunday morning, after spending more than two hours in a body bag, Ms Beauchamp arrived at the James H. Cole Home for Funerals, where an employee discovered that she was alive, breathing with her eyes open, Mr Fieger said.
The funeral home, he said, then called Ms Beauchamp's mother, Ms Erica Lattimore, and sent Ms Beauchamp to the hospital. "This devastated my life," Ms Lattimore told TV station WDIV.
On Monday, the Southfield Fire Department issued a second statement. "The Southfield Fire and Police Departments followed all appropriate city, county and state protocols and procedures in this case," the department said, adding the city was investigating the matter.