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Detroit woman w/ cerebral palsy dies 8 weeks after found alive at funeral home

Timesha Beauchamp dead
Timesha Beauchamp dead. Pictured Detroit special needs woman who was found alive at a funeral home.
Timesha Beauchamp dead
Timesha Beauchamp dead. Pictured Detroit special needs woman who was found alive at a funeral home.

Timesha Beauchamp Detroit woman w/ cerebral palsy dies 8 weeks after found alive at funeral home. Family files $50M lawsuit against Southfield Paramedics and city who it blames for bungling special needs girl’s recovery. 

A 20-year-old woman who was mistakenly pronounced dead by paramedics and later found alive at a Detroit funeral home in August has died from complications brought on by the ordeal, family members announced Monday.

Timesha Beauchamp, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died peacefully on Sunday at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

The Beauchamp family’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, said the 20 year old died on Sunday, as a result of massive brain damage she sustained when local paramedics wrongly declared her dead on August 23 and subsequently failed to provide her with much needed oxygen.

‘Our whole family is devastated,’ the Beauchamp family said in a joint statement. ‘This is the second time our beloved Timesha has been pronounced dead – but this time she isn’t coming back.’

Beauchamp had been left inside a body bag for at least two hours before being found alive by an undertaker at the James H Cole funeral home on August 23, as they were preparing to embalm her. 

Missed signals

The incident was spurred earlier the same morning, just before 7:30am, when her mother called 911 to report that her daughter was unconscious and was having difficulty breathing.

Four attending paramedics performed life-saving procedures on Beauchamp across a period of 30 minutes. They also checked her vital signs on three separate occasions, however determined she ‘didn’t show any signs of life’.

She was then officially declared dead by a Providence Hospital doctor on account of the information provided to them by the paramedics.

Despite concerns allegedly expressed twice by Beauchamp’s family that she appeared to be breathing and had a pulse, the first responders reportedly dismissed the claim and said the movements were a side-effect of medication they’d given her.

Fieger claimed the family were then handed a body bag for the 20-year-old to be zipped into and told to start making funeral arrangements.

Beauchamp was taken to the James H Cole funeral home where a worker noticed she was alive around two hours later.

According to a Southfield Police report, the staff member said, ‘while they were picking up the body they noticed the patient’s chest moving… the chest was rising and falling very fast’.

Timesha Beauchamp dead
Timesha Beauchamp dead. Pictured 20 year old Detroit special needs woman. Image via family.

Family files $50 million lawsuit against paramedics & city

When they opened the body bag, Beauchamp was reportedly gasping for air and her eyes were open. In total, she had been left without sufficient oxygen for around four hours an investigation found.

Emergency services were then called once again, and Beauchamp was taken from the funeral home to hospital where she remained in a critical ‘touch and go’ condition for eight weeks until her death on Sunday.

An investigation later determined first responders failed to recognize that when Beauchamp was placed on a monitor 13 minutes after they discontinued CPR, it indicated she was not deceased.

Earlier this month, Fieger files $50 million lawsuit against Southfield paramedics and the city on behalf of the Beauchamp family.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on October 8 and names the City of Southfield and four city employees as defendants: Michael Storms, Scott Rickard, Phillip Mulligan and Jake Kroll.

All four officers, who also serve as Southfield firefighters, had their licenses suspended by the State of Michigan. They were also were put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, city of Southfield officials said. 

Timesha Beauchamp dead
Timesha Beauchamp dead: Pictured the Detroit funeral home where the 20 year old woman was found alive.

Lazarus syndrome

License suspension documents obtained by The Associated Press revealed that Storms provided inaccurate vital signs and other physical descriptions, and neglected to use a stethoscope to determine circulation or signs of respiration at any time during the evaluation. He did, however, use a monitor that clearly showed Beauchamp had not died, but instead, assured the family that the breathing they were witnessing was nothing more than a side-effect of medication she was on.

In response, the four emergency medical technicians and paramedics have filed a lawsuit against state and local officials, alleging their medical licenses were suspended without due process.

Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee has also defended his crew, insisting that each had followed protocol and administered lifesaving aid as required.

Among the group is a lieutenant with 18 years of experience, a paramedic who has been on the job for seven years, and two EMTs with two years and six months of experience, respectively. 

‘They feel terrible. They can’t imagine how this possibly had happened. They’re emotionally upset,’ Menifee said of the officers in August. ‘What transpired with Ms Beauchamp is unique and unsettling, we know there is evidence out there that this sort of thing happened before.’

While Menifee declined to speculate how Beauchamp was revived after showing no signs of life, he invoked the so-called Lazarus syndrome or phenomenon, which is defined as a delayed return of spontaneous circulation after CPR has stopped. It is named after Lazarus of Bethany, who according to the Bible was resurrected by Jesus Christ four days after his death.

However, the Beauchamp family’s suit accuses Menifee’s department of negligence. The suit claims Storms had stopped CPR for five minutes before calling a physician at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield for permission to do so. 

Storms is then accused of providing the physician with erroneous information that led to Beauchamp wrongfully being pronounced dead.

Prior to halting CPR, a monitor showed electrical activity, the lawsuit states. It also claims that after concluding that Beauchamp was dead, none of the four first-responders at the scene tried to verify circulation or listen for breath sounds ‘despite CO2 levels indicating respiration.’

EMT’s & Paramedics culpability

When asked last month if Beauchamp’s disability played a role in the erroneous declaration of death, Fieger said it was very likely.

‘She’s been disabled since birth. She requires constant care,’ the attorney said. ‘I believe her relatively fragile condition probably contributed to the false belief by the authorities she had deceased. My guess is it certainly played some role.’

Menifee pushed back against Fieger’s claim, saying that his firefighters are ‘very professional.’

He continued: ‘I’ve never had an issue with any firefighter looking at any diversity issued with a patient.. we pride ourselves on delivering the best service for every citizen.’

The family’s four-count lawsuit alleges violation of the 14th amendment by the four first-responders, intentional infliction of emotional distress by all defendants, gross negligence and wanton/willful misconduct by the four first-responders, and further liability by the City of Southfield.

The defendants have 21 days from receipt of the summons to respond to the suit.