In a startling incident in Babahoyo, Ecuador, a vigil for 76-year-old Bella Montoya took an unexpected turn when attendees noticed movement from within her coffin.
The event was held last Friday, merely four hours after Montoya was declared dead. Mourners were in dumbfounded when they discovered Montoya was in fact very much alive.
The dramatic moment was captured on video, showing the elderly woman visibly breathing as medical personnel moved her from the casket to a stretcher. Montoya’s hand began to drum against the coffin’s interior, startling guests according to Montoya’s son, Gilbert Balberán.
After the woman was declared dead earlier that day, Balberán was handed a death certificate by a medical examiner. The certificate cited cardiorespiratory arrest as the cause of his mother’s supposed demise.
Balberán suggests that his mother’s reported death was a result of catalepsy. The condition is characterized by rigidity, decreased sensitivity, and slowed bodily functions such as respiration. This was likely mistaken for death by the hospital staff.
Catalepsy often accompanies conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, and can lead to significant decreases in perceptible vital signs.
In an extraordinary turn of events, Montoya is now recuperating in the very hospital that prematurely declared her deceased. Balberán reports that she is currently stable, responsive, and on oxygen support, which medical staff deem as encouraging signs of recovery.
The erroneous declaration of Montoya’s death has spurred an investigation by Ecuador’s Ministry of Health. A specialized team has been assigned to scrutinize why a death certificate was hastily approved without comprehensive verification of Montoya’s condition.
This is not an isolated incident of such misjudgment. Last year, attendees at a funeral for a three-year-old girl in Mexico were startled to find signs of life when the glass of her coffin fogged up, suggesting respiration. Though the child was found to have a pulse, she later tragically succumbed at the hospital.