Young woman in Detroit declared dead by paramedics, found alive at funeral home

Paramedics performed CPR and other life-reviving methods for 30 minutes, according to the Fire Chief

Updated: August 25, 2020 - 4:54pm

A 20-year-old woman was discovered this past weekend breathing at a Detroit funeral home hours after she was declared dead by paramedics and sent to the mortuary by her bereaved family. 

"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. Upon her arrival at the funeral home, our staff confirmed she was breathing and called EMS," the mortuary told ABC News on Monday.

Paramedics responded to an early morning call in the Detroit suburb of Southfield on Sunday, where they found an unresponsive female, said Fire Chief Johnny L. Menifee. The chief said the woman was not breathing when paramedics arrived on the scene. 

"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," said Menifee. A local emergency department doctor then pronounced the woman dead based on the medical information provided by the Fire Department paramedics.

Employees of the James H. Cole Funeral home called the fire department paramedics to report a person having difficulty breathing and only later did the second team of paramedics find out the full story.

"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," said Dave Fornell, the deputy commissioner of the Detroit Fire Department.