A young woman who was declared dead at her suburban Detroit home opened her eyes at a funeral home as she was about to embalmed, the fire department and a lawyer said Monday. The doctor “pronounced the patient deceased based upon medical information provided” from the scene, the Southfield Fire Department said, but the woman was later found to be breathing.
“They would have begun draining her blood to be very, very frank about it,” the family’s lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, told WXYZ-TV.
The fire department acknowledged it was involved in a bizarre set of events Sunday that began when a medical crew was summoned to a home where a 20-year-old woman was unresponsive. Paramedics tried to revive the woman for 30 minutes and consulted an emergency room doctor, the department said.
“The Southfield Fire and Police Departments followed all appropriate city, county and state protocols and procedures in this case,” the department said. It said an investigation was underway and vowed “to provide as much transparency as possible.”
The Oakland County medical examiner’s office said the body could be released to the family without an autopsy, according to the fire department.
But then came a startling discovery at the James H. Cole funeral home in Detroit: The woman was still alive more than an hour later.
“Our staff confirmed she was breathing” and called a emergency medical crew, the funeral home said.
Fieger, who was hired by the family, identified the woman as Timesha Beauchamp.
“They were about to embalm her, which is most frightening, had she not had her eyes open. … The funeral home unzipping the body bag – literally – that’s what happened to Timesha, and seeing her alive with her eyes open,” Fieger said.
Fieger didn’t return a message from The Associated Press. Beauchamp was in critical condition Monday night, said Brian Taylor, spokesman for Detroit Medical Center.
“My heart is so heavy. Someone pronounced my child dead, and she’s not even dead,” Beauchamp’s mother, Erica Lattimore, told WDIV-TV.
Southfield said it’s conducting an internal investigation but insisted that the fire and police departments followed procedures.