A 76-year-old Ecuadorian woman declared dead at a hospital in Quito shocked mourners after she began banging on her own coffin from the inside during her wake. Bella Montoya, a retired nurse, was rushed back to hospital on Friday when onlookers realized she was very much alive, her son Gilberto Barbera told The Associated Press.
Barbera said that what happened “gave us all a fright,” and pointed out that his mother’s health is still very much dire. Doctors believe she’d suffered a stroke and cardiopulmonary arrest and could not be resuscitated, leading hospital officials to declare her dead, according to Ecuador’s health minister.
According to Barbera, he was handed Bella Montoya’s ID documents as well as a death certificate only hours after she was taken to the emergency room. She was then transported to a funeral home and a wake was scheduled for the following Friday. That’s when it became clear that she was still alive.
🇪🇨 | La mujer de la tercera edad, de nombre Bella Montoya, fue dada por muerta en el hospital de Babahoyo.
Se la entregaron a su hijo al medio día para que realizara el velorio, pero horas más tarde se dieron cuenta que aún estaba viva.pic.twitter.com/kOsaqxcnmB
— Alerta Mundial (@AlertaMundial2) June 10, 2023
“There were about 20 of us there,” Barbera recalled. “After about five hours of the wake, the coffin started to make sounds. My mom was wrapped in sheets and hitting the coffin, and when we approached we could see that she was breathing heavily.”
Montoya is now said to be in intensive care at a hospital in Babahoyo. She is currently intubated and her relatives don’t believe she will make it much longer. A review is currently underway to discover how she could have been pronounced dead when there were still signs of life. Authorities plan to look into the process of how death certificates are issued in the region.
Information on the doctor who initially declared Montoya dead have not been released publicly. However, there have been many calls from outraged members of the public to reveal his identity given the seriousness of the situation.