Undertaker finds “corpse” alive, but man dies five days later in hospital

Paramedics found a man they thought was “obviously dead,” last Thursday, but an undertaker called to remove the body found the man still breathing, and he was rushed to the hospital where he died this morning, October 26.

A friend of the 62-year-old resident of Hsinchu County called police to help him enter the man’s home, after the man, named Tong, did not show up for work, and could not be contacted, Thursday, October 21.

At around 9:00 pm, police found Tong face-down on the bathroom floor, and immediately called an ambulance. Fire Department paramedics found Tong without breathing or pulse. As Mr Tong’s limbs were stiff, in apparent rigor mortis, the paramedics determined that he had been dead for some time, and therefore they did not attempt CPR, and did not take him to the hospital.

Police traced Tong’s next of kin – a sister in Taichung City to inform her of the death of her brother. Mr Tong’s sister, in turn, contacted a local funeral home to deal with the body.

The undertaker arrived at around 11:00 pm, and when funeral home staff turned “the body” over onto its back, found Tong to be breathing.

The shocked staff quickly called an ambulance, and Mr Tong was rushed to hospital. Tong remained unconscious with a Glascow coma index level of three, and was diagnosed as having suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage.

Tong underwent a series of surgeries to remove blood clots from his brain, but unfortunately, his condition did not improve, and with the permission of family members this morning, Tuesday, doctors removed life-support systems, and Mr Tong was declared dead at 11:28 am.

Hsinchu County Fire Department are conducting a review of procedures that led to the man being declared “obviously dead” at the scene.

The fire department pointed out that according to Article 3 of the Emergency Medical Ambulance Law, the ambulance personnel’s determination of what constitutes an obvious death at the scene, includes: the corpse is decayed, stiff, scorched, headless, visceral spillage, or torso broken.  The man surnamed Tong had no pulse and no breathing at the time, and was stiff. Thus he was judged to be “obviously dead.”

Following this case, the procedures and training surrounding such a determination will be thoroughly reviewed, the Fire Department spokesperson said.

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