Family of woman found alive at funeral home hires lawyer to investigate possible negligence

The family's attorney says the woman was in a body bag for two hours after being declared dead

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — The family of a Southfield woman declared dead last weekend before workers at a Detroit funeral home discovered she was alive and still breathing, has retained attorney Geoffrey Fieger to investigate possibly negligence on the part of authorities who arrived at the scene.

Fieger, based in Southfield, held a digital press conference Tuesday to discuss the case. He said the woman, Timesha Beauchamp, 20, was in a body bag for at least two hours before being found alive by workers at the funeral home.

The Southfield Fire Department responded to a 911 call at about 7:35 a.m. Sunday. A 20-year-old woman was reported as being unresponsive, authorities said.

Fieger said the woman suffered what was "apparently a seizure" during her normal morning routine: wake up, eat, change clothes, and take a breathing treatment. She was not breathing, and her lips had lost color.

Beauchamp has had cerebral palsy from birth, and is on three breathing treatments a day.

"That may be incidentally involved; we don't know," Fieger said.

It was after police and medics arrived that "the entire sad scenario gets very, very murky," Fieger said.

Medics tried "life-saving efforts" on the woman for about half an hour, said Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee said. But the woman showed "no signs of life."

Fieger said a godmother of the woman, who works in the medical field, was at the house at the time, and told authorities that Beauchamp was not dead. But they allegedly argued that the movements were involuntary, a reaction to the life-saving efforts just applied, Fieger added.

After the fire department consulted with an emergency room doctor at Providence Hospital, who declared the woman dead, the Oakland County Medical Examiner signed off on releasing the woman's body to the family.

The woman was placed into a body bag at about 9 a.m., Fieger said. The James H. Cole Home for Funerals, in Detroit at 16100 Schaefer, took custody of the woman's body just before 11:30 a.m., Fieger said.

But workers who opened the body bag realized the woman was not dead. The workers were preparing to embalm Beauchamp.

"She was alive, her eyes were open, and she was breathing," Fieger said.

They called 911, and Detroit Fire Department medics arrived. The woman was breathing. Her heart was beating at a rate of 80 beats per minute.

Beauchamp remains hospitalized in critical condition, said Brian Taylor, a spokesman for the Detroit Medical Center.

Southfield Fire Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


©2020 The Detroit News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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