Los Angeles: Maria de Jesus Arroyo, 80, woke up in a body bag inside the mortuary freezer but she then actually died when she failed to get out.
The woman, a grandmother, came to at the mortuary of White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles , California in the United States.
A chilling end: Doctors said she hadn’t died of a heart attack, as thought earlier, but of asphyxiation and hypothermia. Pic/Thinkstock
She was found upside-down in the body bag, which was half unzipped, and she had several facial injuries.
A pathologist ruled that she hadn't died of a heart attack, as was first thought, and instead died from asphyxiation and hypothermia after she was put in the morgue.
Her injuries were consistent with a struggle to get out.
The family’s lawyer, Scott Schutzman, said: “This case keeps me awake at night. She was put into that body bag while she was alive.
“The cold from the hospital morgue woke her up, and she was fighting her way out when she died.
“She must have got the wounds while she was fighting, while she was on her way out, and that’s why they found her upside down.”
Her family is now suing the White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles over the death, which happened in 2010.
A hospital spokesman denied mistakes were made.
He said: “We followed all proper protocols in this matter and are confident that once the facts of the case are reviewed, we will prevail in court.”
In January, workers at the Naivasha hospital in Kenya ran away in fear when the body of Paul Mutora stirred as they carried out their work. The man, who had tried to take his own life by swallowing poisonous insecticide, was declared dead. Doctors later said the drug used to treat him slowed his heartbeat which may explain the bizarre series of events.
Larger than life
The same month, the body of Britain’s fattest woman had to be moved to a morgue with double fridges due to her size. Rita Atkinson, 65, died of natural causes at her home in North Yorkshire after being housebound for years due to her 40 stone weight. After finding out she wouldn't fit into a mortuary fridge, firefighters helped paramedics move her to one with double fridges and a winch to lift her. Firefighters said it was a difficult operation because of her size.