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Woman, 20, found alive in a funeral home after being wrongfully declared dead by paramedics has died


A 20-year-old woman who was mistakenly pronounced dead by paramedics and later found alive at a Detroit funeral home in August has died from complications brought on by the ordeal, family members announced Monday.

Timesha Beauchamp, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died peacefully on Sunday at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

The Beauchamp family’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, said she died as a result of massive brain damage she sustained when local paramedics wrongly declared her dead on August 23 and subsequently failed to provide her with much needed oxygen.

‘Our whole family is devastated,’ the Beauchamp family said in a joint statement. ‘This is the second time our beloved Timesha has been pronounced dead – but this time she isn’t coming back.’

Timesha Beauchamp, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died peacefully on Sunday at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, eight weeks after she was wrongfully pronounced dead

Timesha Beauchamp, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died peacefully on Sunday at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, eight weeks after she was wrongfully pronounced dead

Beauchamp had been left inside a body bag for at least two hours before being found alive by an undertaker at the James H Cole funeral home on August 23, as they were preparing to embalm her. 

The incident was spurred earlier the same morning, just before 7:30am, when her mother called 911 to report that her daughter was unconscious and was having difficulty breathing.

Four paramedics raced to the home and performed life-saving procedures on Beauchamp across a period of 30 minutes. They also checked her vital signs on three separate occasions, however determined she ‘didn’t show any signs of life’.

She was then officially declared dead by a Providence Hospital doctor on account of the information provided to them by the paramedics.

Despite concerns allegedly expressed twice by Beauchamp’s family that she appeared to be breathing and had a pulse, the first responders reportedly dismissed the claim and said the movements were a side-effect of medication they’d given her.

Fieger claimed the family were then handed a body bag for the 20-year-old to be zipped into and told to start making funeral arrangements.

Beauchamp had been left inside a body bag for at least two hours before being found alive by an undertaker at the James H Cole funeral home on August 23, who was preparing the embalm her

Beauchamp had been left inside a body bag for at least two hours before being found alive by an undertaker at the James H Cole funeral home on August 23, who was preparing the embalm her

Beauchamp was taken to the James H Cole funeral home where a worker noticed she was alive around two hours later.

According to a Southfield Police report, the staff member said, ‘while they were picking up the body they noticed the patient’s chest moving… the chest was rising and falling very fast’.

When they opened the body bag, Beauchamp was reportedly gasping for air and her eyes were open. In total, she had been left without sufficient oxygen for around four hours.

TIMELINE OF TIMESHA BEAUCHAMP CASE: 

August 23, 7.27am: A 911 call comes in about a 20-year-old female who’s unconscious, unknown if breathing

7.34am: Southfield firefighters arrive on scene to find an unresponsive, non-breathing woman

7.35am: Paramedics begin life-saving procedures and spend about 30 minutes trying to revive the patient

8.07am: Southfield police arrive on the scene

8.09am: Southfield firefighters contact Providence Hospital emergency room physician and report their findings 

8.38am: Southfield Fire Department paramedics leave the scene 

8.53am: Southfield police leaves the scene after contacting the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office 

11.25am: Beauchamp is picked up by staff from James H Cole Home for Funerals 

11.45am: Mortuary worker discovers the woman is alive and breathing  

Emergency services were then called once again, and Beauchamp was taken from the funeral home to hospital where she remained in a critical ‘touch and go’ condition for eight weeks until her death on Sunday.

An investigation later determined first responders failed to recognize that when the young woman was placed on a monitor 13 minutes after they discontinued CPR, it indicated she was not deceased.

Earlier this month, Fieger filed a $50 million lawsuit against the paramedics and the city on behalf of the Beauchamp family.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on October 8 and names the City of Southfield and four city employees as defendants: Michael Storms, Scott Rickard, Phillip Mulligan and Jake Kroll.

All four officers, who also serve as Southfield firefighters, had their licenses suspended by the State of Michigan. They were also were put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, city of Southfield officials said. 

In response, the four emergency medical technicians and paramedics have filed a lawsuit against state and local officials, alleging their medical licenses were suspended without due process.

Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee has also defended his crew, insisting in a press conference after the incident that each followed protocol and administered lifesaving aid as required.

Among the group is a lieutenant with 18 years of experience, a paramedic who has been on the job for seven years, and two EMTs with two years and six months of experience, respectively. 

‘They feel terrible. They can’t imagine how this possibly had happened. They’re emotionally upset,’ Menifee said of the officers in August. ‘What transpired with Ms Beauchamp is unique and unsettling, we know there is evidence out there that this sort of thing happened before.’

Beauchamp had been left inside a body bag for at least two hours before being found alive by an undertaker at the James H Cole funeral home on August 23, who was preparing the embalm her

Beauchamp had been left inside a body bag for at least two hours before being found alive by an undertaker at the James H Cole funeral home on August 23, who was preparing the embalm her

While Menifee declined to speculate how Beauchamp was revived after showing no signs of life, he invoked the so-called Lazarus syndrome or phenomenon, which is defined as a delayed return of spontaneous circulation after CPR has stopped. It is named after Lazarus of Bethany, who according to the Bible was resurrected by Jesus Christ four days after his death.

The Beauchamp family’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger said she died as a result of massive brain damage suffered from when local paramedics wrongly declared her dead on August 23 and consequently failed to provide her with much needed oxygen

The Beauchamp family’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger said she died as a result of massive brain damage suffered from when local paramedics wrongly declared her dead on August 23 and consequently failed to provide her with much needed oxygen

However, the Beauchamp family’s suit accuses Menifee’s department of negligence. The suit claims Storms had stopped CPR for five minutes before calling a physician at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield for permission to do so. 

Storms is then accused of providing the physician with erroneous information that led to Beauchamp wrongfully being pronounced dead.

Prior to halting CPR, a monitor showed electrical activity, the lawsuit states. It also claims that after concluding that Beauchamp was dead, none of the four first-responders at the scene tried to verify circulation or listen for breath sounds ‘despite CO2 levels indicating respiration.’

When asked last month if Beauchamp’s disability played a role in the erroneous declaration of death, Fieger said it was very likely.

‘She’s been disabled since birth. She requires constant care,’ the attorney said. ‘I believe her relatively fragile condition probably contributed to the false belief by the authorities she had deceased. My guess is it certainly played some role.’

Menifee pushed back against Fieger’s claim, saying that his firefighters are ‘very professional.’

He continued: ‘I’ve never had an issue with any firefighter looking at any diversity issued with a patient.. we pride ourselves on delivering the best service for every citizen.’

Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee has defended his crew, insisting in a press conference after the incident that each followed protocol and administered lifesaving aid as required.

Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee has defended his crew, insisting in a press conference after the incident that each followed protocol and administered lifesaving aid as required.

Beauchamp’s mother, Erica Lattimore, said back in August that she had been left ‘devastated’ by her daughter’s ordeal.

‘I’m devastated that my daughter is going through what she’s going through,’ she told Click on Detroit at the time. ‘My family, her twin brother, her older brother – it’s just, I don’t even have words. I haven’t slept all night. I just don’t know what to do. My heart is so heavy.’

She told the station that when the paramedics were at her home, ‘They said: “Ma’am, she’s gone.” I told them: “Are you absolutely, 100 percent sure that she’s gone?” They said: “Yes, ma’am, she’s gone.”‘

A few hours later, however, she said that someone from the funeral home called her with news she was alive.

Lattimore said the funeral home staffer told her: ‘Ma’am, your daughter is on her way to Sinai Grace Hospital. She is breathing. She is alive.’

The statement ‘devastated my life,’ Beauchamp’s mother said, adding she responded, ‘What do you mean? What do you mean she’s breathing?’

The funeral home staffer said, ‘Ma’am, she’s in the hospital,’ Lattimore recalled.

The family’s four-count lawsuit alleges violation of the 14th amendment by the four first-responders, intentional infliction of emotional distress by all defendants, gross negligence and wanton/willful misconduct by the four first-responders, and further liability by the City of Southfield.

The defendants have 21 days from receipt of the summons to respond to the suit.

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