Detroit Funeral Home Discovers 20-Year-Old Woman Declared Dead Is Actually Alive


A 20-year-old woman who had been declared dead by authorities was discovered to be actually still alive after being transported to a funeral home over the weekend.

The woman was found unresponsive and not breathing at a home in Southfield, Michigan, early Saturday, the Southfield Fire Department said in a statement to NBC affiliate WDIV.

Responding paramedics performed CPR and attempted other “life-reviving methods” for half an hour before medical readings determined “at that time that she did not have signs of life,” the statement said.

At that point — based on real-time medical data such as heartbeat and breathing — the woman was declared dead via phone by an emergency room doctor at a nearby hospital, Bill Mullan, a spokesperson for the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office, tells PEOPLE. Sending the medical data, known as telemetry, is standard operating procedure, he says.

Once the woman was declared dead, the Southfield Fire Department contacted the medical examiner’s office. The forensic pathologist on duty determined that, based on what the emergency room physician said and the woman’s previous medical history, her body should be released to her family and did not need to undergo further forensic examination, Mullan says.

It was at James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit that staff members made the shocking realization that the woman was still breathing.

“After receiving clearance from the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s office she was transported to our funeral home,” the funeral home said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Upon her arrival at the funeral home, our staff confirmed she was breathing and called EMS.”

She was then transported to the hospital, where her condition remains unknown, WDIV reported.

The fire department, who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, said the woman’s identity will not be released as to respect her family’s privacy.

A spokesperson for the Southfield Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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