A Michigan woman is in critical condition after she was found alive in a funeral home after a worker unzipped a body bag.
Timesha Beauchamp was declared dead on Sunday after she went into cardiac arrest at her home in Southfield, according to the Detroit Free Press. The paramedics spent 30 minutes trying to revive her but she did not respond. The responders called the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office to report their findings and a doctor declared Beauchamp dead.
“Because there was no indication of foul play, as per standard operating procedure, the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office was contacted and given the medical data,” the Southfield Fire Department said in a statement. “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.” The Southfield Fire Department later amended its statement to say an emergency room physician pronounced the woman dead. This mistaken death pronouncement presumably was made by phone.
Her body was released to her family and she was taken to the James H. Cole Funeral Home in Detroit. A funeral home employee was preparing to embalm Beauchamp when unzipped her body bag and found the 20-year-old was staring at her. The funeral home determined she was breathing and called 911 for help.
Beauchamp was taken to a local hospital and is in critical condition. The woman’s distraught mother, Erica Lattimore, told the Local 4 Defenders her family is struggling with the news.
“I’m devastated that my daughter is going through what she’s going through,” Lattimore said on Monday. “My family, her twin brother, her older brother — it’s just, I don’t even have words. I haven’t slept all night. I just don’t know what to do. My heart is so heavy.”
Lattimore told the news station she was notified of her daughter’s death by the paramedics. When they informed her Beauchamp was dead, she said she asked if they were sure.
“They said, ‘Ma’am, she’s gone,’” Lattimore recalled. “I told them, ‘Are you absolutely, 100 percent sure that she’s gone?’ They said, ‘Yes, ma’am, she’s gone.’”
She received a phone call hours later. This call came from the funeral home, where a staffer told her Beauchamp was still alive.
“They said, ‘Ma’am, your daughter is on her way to Sinai Grace Hospital. She is breathing. She is alive, ‘” the mother said to Local 4. “This devastated my life. Then she just told me, ‘No, ma’am, your daughter is breathing.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? What do you mean she’s breathing?’ She said, ‘Ma’am, she’s in the hospital.
Lattimore is not sure her daughter will survive. The family hired attorney Geoffrey Fieger to represent them.
“They were about to embalm her which is most frightening had she not had her eyes open. They would have begun draining her blood to be very, very frank about it,” he told WXYZ.
The fire department announced the incident is under investigation.
“The City of Southfield is currently conducting a thorough internal investigation in addition to the Oakland County Medical Control Authority (OCMCA) which will be reporting their findings to the State of Michigan Bureau of EMS, Trauma, and Preparedness (BETP),” the statement read. “In an effort to provide as much transparency as possible, more information will be provided as it is available.”