Waking up can be a bit cumbersome at times but imagine, as one Walter Williams did not have to do, waking up at a Mississippi funeral home in a body bag. No, the rather unfortunate Williams woke to find himself declared dead and encased in a body bag. And yet, fortunately for him, he wasn't actually dead. He was only so in a declarative sort of way...
ABC News reported (via Yahoo News) Feb. 28 that Walter Williams, 78, of Lexington, Miss., woke up at a funeral home inside a body bag just as workers there were preparing to start the embalming process. Williams had been declared dead Wednesday night by the coroner, then zipped up in the body bag and transported to the Porter and Sons Funeral Home.
It was only when he awoke that the mistake was realized. In fact, the funeral home workers who were getting ready to start embalming were startled to see the body bag suddenly come to life as Williams began trying to kick his way out of it.
"He was not dead, long story short," funeral home manager Byron Porter told WAPT in Jackson.
According to Williams' nephew, Eddie Hester, who saw the coroner declare his uncle dead and his seeming lifeless body placed inside a body bag, he received a phone call from a cousin, Williams' son, with the odd update. "Not yet," the cousin had said. "I said, 'What you mean not yet?' He said, 'Daddy still here.'"
"I asked the coroner what happened," Holmes County Sheriff Willie March said, "and the only thing he could say is that it's a miracle."
Holmes County coroner Dexter Howard said it's possible that Williams' pacemaker shut down -- and then started up again. But Howard was an elected official, not a medical doctor. He'd been Holmes County's coroner since 2002.
"It was a miraculous moment," said Howard, who is an elected official and not a medical doctor. "Never in my life have I seen anything like it."
"I don't know how long he's going to be here," Hester said, "but I know he's back right now. That's all that matters."
Walter Williams' case is not unique; however, coming back from being "dead" is rare. But one thing is certain: When such an occurrence happens, it makes headlines.
Such as the incident in 2011 when a 60-year-old woman spent two hours inside a plastic bag and entombed in a morgue refrigeration unit. It was only when her daughter went in to say her last good-byes that it was discovered that the woman still lived. Doctors had pronounced the woman dead from a pulmonary infection and when the daughter screamed that her mother was still alive, they, according to the daughter, thought she was losing her mind. Finding that she was not, doctors immediately transferred the woman to an intensive care unit.
And when a 59-year-old West Virginia woman, Val Thomas, suffered two heart attacks in 2008 and was placed on life support machines, her brain registering no activity for 17 hours. Family members maintained that at one point rigor mortis had set in. Given up for dead, she was taken off the ventilator machine she was attached to, but, surprisingly, she woke up 10 minutes later and started talking.