DETROIT – After a 20-year-old Southfield woman was declared dead on Sunday, a funeral home discovered she was still breathing -- and very much alive.
Sources tell Local 4 the woman was found in cardiac arrest inside her home in Southfield on Sunday morning. The family called 911 and Southfield fire crews responded.
Southfield Fire released a statement:
“At 7:34 a.m. on August 23, 2020, Southfield Fire Department paramedics arrived at a home in Southfield on a call for an unresponsive female. When paramedics arrived, they found a 20-year-old who was not breathing. 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.”
Sources with knowledge of this investigation tell Local 4 that Southfield police allegedly saw her move and breathe and called the fire crews back, but fire crews claim those were the side effects of the medication given to her.
Several sources said the female was picked up and transported to James H. Cole Funeral Home in Detroit on Schaefer Highway between 11:30 a.m. and noon on Sunday. That’s when employees at the funeral home discovered that she was still breathing.
James H. Cole Home for Funerals confirmed this on Monday morning in a statement. “After receiving clearance from the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s office she was transported to our funeral home.
Upon her arrival at the funeral home, our staff confirmed she was breathing and called EMS.”
EMS and emergency crews found her very much alive and drove her to the hospital.
Southfield Fire continued the statement, “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 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 full statement from the Southfield Fire Department can be read below.
“At 7:34 a.m. on August 23, 2020, Southfield Fire Department paramedics arrived at a home in Southfield on a call for an unresponsive female. When paramedics arrived, they found a 20 year-old who was not breathing. 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.
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 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.
In an effort to respect the privacy of her family, the Southfield Fire Department is not currently releasing personal information on the patient.”
As it turned out, reports of her untimely death were greatly exaggerated.ReplyDelete
Timesha Beauchamp, a 20-year-old Southfield woman who had been pronounced dead early Sunday morning after a heart attack, was taken to a Detroit funeral home, where staff found she was in fact not dead but still very much alive.
And now, well-known plaintiff's attorney Geoffrey Fieger is representing her. Fieger, who identified his client, has won more than 165 verdicts and settlements of $1 million or more. He also successfully defended assisted-suicide Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
Southfield officials tried to explain the error later that same day in an announcement that was sent on behalf of the city's fire chief under an unusual — and understated — subject line: "Mistaken pronouncement of death."
But even that later required a correction.
The story went viral on social media, with readers imagining the horror of being embalmed alive.
A Seattle attorney, Emily Albrecht, who contacted the Free Press and specializes in mortuary litigation, said the story was so rare she wasn't sure if it was real. But after looking into it she said that it sounds like the funeral home saved the woman's life.
"When I first saw this I thought, 'No way!'" she told the Free Press.
According to the Southfield Fire Department, which would not release victim's name, paramedics responded to a 911 call: A woman was not breathing. They performed CPR and tried to revive her. But after 30 minutes they concluded she likely was no longer alive.
Following procedures, the paramedics also contacted the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office. But later the fire department clarified in a statement that a local emergency department physician pronounced Beauchamp dead.
The body was released to her family to make funeral arrangements.
James H. Cole Funeral Home in Detroit confirmed it picked up the body hours later. But at the funeral home, employees saw her chest was rising and falling and the woman was still breathing. They called EMS, and the woman was taken to the hospital for treatment.
The funeral home added its "thoughts and prayers are with this young woman and her family."
Rescue professionals checked Timesha Beauchamp for life signs three separate times and found none, leading a doctor to conclude the 20-year-old Southfield resident had died.ReplyDelete
But, hours later, a Detroit funeral home discovered she was very much alive. Was it a medical miracle or a life-threatening mistake? That's what an extensive investigation is expected to determine.
In the meantime, Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee called a news conference to set the record straight on what happened. He also suggested Beauchamp's revival may have been a case of Lazarus syndrome.
The rare — but hard to scientifically explain — phenomenon has been described in research papers as a delayed return of spontaneous circulation after CPR. The name alludes to the Biblical story of Lazarus, who was brought back to life by Jesus.
"This is a terrible, tragic thing," Menifee said of the circumstances that have been making international headlines. "We feel terrible about this. Like I said, the entire city feels terrible about this."
Southfield officials have been on the hot seat since Tuesday, when Beauchamp's lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, suggested that it was an error caused by negligence. Fieger is well known for taking cases with settlements and judgments of at least $1 million.
Fieger said Beauchamp was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, and that, he implied, may have been a factor in declaring her dead, when she was still very much alive.
When asked why paramedics didn't rush Beauchamp directly to the hospital, Menifee said that's "under investigation." And when asked if that's what paramedics should have done, Menifee said "no," adding that they followed the proper procedures.
"While ultimately what transpired here with Ms. Beauchamp is unique and unsettling, we know that there is evidence out there that something like this has happened before," Menifee told news crews at City Hall. "We're still investigating to determine what happened on that Sunday."
Over and over again, the chief responded to reporters seeking answers by saying the situation was "under investigation," eventually ending his own news conference by turning and walking out of the room as a reporter shouted a question at him.
Menifee confirmed that two paramedics and two EMTs went to Beauchamp's home and checked Beauchamp's vital signs. The chief also noted at least two of the firefighters had experience, as 18- and seven-year veterans.
All four of the rescue workers are now on paid leave. (continued)
(continued)The chief also acknowledged and apologized for not contacting the family directly, saying that he felt "terribly bad personally and professionally" that he didn't. But, he said, they "wanted and deserved answers" and he did not have them to offer.ReplyDelete
Menifee said he did not share concerns raised by Fieger, that negligence or discrimination may have led to a misdiagnosis, and blasted Fieger for making what he called "grossly inaccurate statements."
He told reporters Fieger's claim that paramedics or police placed the young woman in a body bag was wrong. Firefighters, he said, do not even carry body bags, and the paramedics left the body in care of the family.
"The men and women of this fire department are very professional," the chief said. "They go out every day and deliver the best service possible to the citizens of this city. I've never had an issue with any freighter and diversity issues with a patient."
Menifee also took issue with Fieger's insinuation that paramedics might not have contacted a physician or the Oakland County Medical Examiner. They did, the chief said, adding that they followed proper procedures.
Still, for the most part, Menifee's and Fieger's timelines mostly matched up.
At 7:27 a.m., Menifee said, the fire department responded to a 911 call about a woman who was not breathing. Paramedics, he said, offered help. They arrived at the home at 7:34 a.m. and a minute later started performing lifesaving procedures for about 30 minutes to try to save her.
Southfield police, Menifee said, then arrived at 8:07 a.m.
Two minutes later, the fire department reported its findings to a physician, who the chief said determined Beauchamp had died, based on the information paramedics relayed.
But then, Menifee said, between 8:09 a.m. and 8:38 a.m., a family member told fire officials Beauchamp appeared to be breathing and reassessed her. They ended up with the same result and conclusion: No life signs.
When paramedics went to their vehicle, Menifee said, a family member told a police officer Beauchamp had a heartbeat. They evaluated Beauchamp a third time, and, the chief said, they still detected no life signs.
At about 11:30 a.m., the James H. Cole Funeral Home picked up Beauchamp's body.
By Fieger's account, when the Detroit funeral home checked on Beauchamp her eyes were open — and she was breathing. From the funeral home, she was rushed to Sinai-Grace Hospital, where she has been on a respirator, clinging to life.
When the funeral home unzipped the body bag that Timesha Beauchamp had been in for hours, the embalmer faced a startling scene: the 20-year-old on the table who was thought to be dead was very much alive.ReplyDelete
Her eyes were open — and she was breathing.
The macabre account, delivered Tuesday by the family's attorney Geoffrey Fieger on a video conference call, is making international headlines. Fieger's law firm and the Southfield police are both investigating what happened. The scene was surreal, as if it were out of a horror movie.
Fieger on Tuesday offered journalists a detailed narrative of what happened Sunday. He said he does not yet know whether there was negligence or whether the misdiagnosis led Beauchamp — who has cerebral palsy — to not get the treatment she needed and caused her more harm.
The Free Press left messages Tuesday for comment from Southfield officials.
"Perhaps they wrongly believe that under unfortunate circumstances, Timesha had passed away," Fieger, a well-known Michigan plaintiffs' attorney, said of the paramedics who treated Beauchamp. "But they were wrong — terribly wrong."
To make matters worse, one of the people at the scene, a nurse, told others Beauchamp might be alive but was apparently ignored.
Beauchamp, Fieger said, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant. The disorder affects a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture, which Fieger speculated may have contributed to the medical misdiagnosis.