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Woman pronounced dead found later to be breathing at Detroit funeral home

'They were about to embalm her'
Posted at 5:19 AM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 07:42:40-04

DETROIT — A 20-year-old woman believed to have died was found breathing at a Detroit funeral home.

According to an attorney hired by her family, workers at the funeral home were close to embalming Timesha Beauchamp before realizing that she was still breathing.

"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," said Geoffrey Fieger, an attorney who has been hired by Beauchamp's family.

On Sunday morning, paramedics with the Southfield Fire Department in Michigan responded after receiving a call about an unresponsive woman. The department's fire chief said Beauchamp was not breathing when the paramedics arrived.

First responders determined after 30 minutes of revival efforts that she was deceased.

"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 chief said in a statement.

Fieger says that Beauchamp's godmother — a registered nurse — tried to tell EMS workers that she felt a pulse.

Hours later, the staff at the James H. Cole funeral home realized she was still breathing.

"It’s one of people's worst nightmares to imagine having an ambulance called and instead, sending you off to a funeral home in a body bag. The funeral home unzipping the body bag, literally, that’s what happened to Timesha, and seeing her alive with her eyes open," Fieger said.

Beauchamp is in critical condition at Sinai Grace Hospital and is on a ventilator. Fieger said that the 90-minute delay Beauchamp encountered by going to the funeral home instead of going to the hospital may be critical to her recovery.

It is still unclear what led up to the call for the unresponsive woman.

“A local emergency department physician pronounced the patient deceased based upon medical information provided by the Southfield Fire Department at the scene. After which, the Southfield Police Department contacted the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office to notify them of the findings and the on-duty forensic pathologist released the body to the family," the Southfield Fire Department said in a statement. "The Southfield Fire and Police Departments followed all appropriate city, county and state protocols and procedures in this case. 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). In an effort to provide as much transparency as possible, more information will be provided as it is available.”

This story was originally published by WXYZ in Detroit.