Woman found alive in mortuary fridge in critical condition


FILE image of the mortuary section of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. The business of funerals has become increasingly competitive with reports surfacing of undertakers going to extraordinary and unscrupulous lengths to secure corpses.

JOHANNESBURG - A woman who paramedics had declared dead after a horrific car crash and was later found alive in a mortuary fridge, is in a critical condition in hospital.

Gauteng Health Department spokesman Lesemang Matuka said in a statement that the woman&39;s family has been contacted.

Matuka said the case is currently being investigated and will be reported to the regulatory body.

Ambulance service Distress Alert confirmed that the unnamed woman had been certified dead by paramedics at the scene of the pile-up outside of Carletonville, southwest of Johannesburg, in the early hours of 24 June.

Mortuary technicians then found her alive in a morgue fridge several hours after the crash in which the victims&39; car rolled, throwing all three occupants clear of the vehicle, killing two of them.

"We followed our procedures -- we&39;ve got no idea how it happened," Distress Alert operations manager Gerrit Bradnick told AFP.

"The crew is absolutely devastated -- we&39;re not in the business of declaring living people dead, we&39;re in the business of keeping people alive."

The woman, who was taken to Carletonville hospital after being found alive in the mortuary, had shown no signs of life when she was attended to by first responders, added Bradnick.

"All the right checks were done -- breathing, pulse -- so the patient was declared deceased," he said.

The company has now launched an investigation.