No one expects to find themselves trapped in a morgue freezer while they are still alive. “A California family who claims a loved one was prematurely declared dead, and then “frozen alive” while trying to escape a morgue freezer, has filed a lawsuit against the hospital”. In 2010, 80 year-old Maria de Jesus Arroyo was pronounced dead from a heart attack at White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights, CA. At this time she was laid out for her family to pay their respects, then was put in a body bag and taken down to the hospital morgue. She was then placed in a refrigerated compartment, awaiting pick up by the mortician; this is where the nightmare began.
The lawsuit claimed that Arroyo was put into a body bag while still alive, the cold from the morgue freezer woke her up, and she died trying to fight her way out.
According to the court papers, “when morticians later received Arroyo’s body from the morgue, they found her facedown rather than faceup. Her nose was broken, and she had cuts and bruises to her face”. A medical expert was hired by the family’s attorney, who determined that the injuries to Arroyo were received pre-mortem. Initially a negligence lawsuit was filed by the family for “mishandling of the remains” after the mortuary was unable to cover up the severity of the injuries to the body. After declarations by this medical expert, that lawsuit has been withdrawn, and a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in its place.
White Memorial Medical Center has denied any wrongdoing in the case. Hospital officials stated, “we followed all proper protocols in this matter and are confident that once the facts of the case are reviewed, we will prevail in court”. Regardless of the outcome, this difficult ordeal will need to be relived by the family and friends of Arroyo, who passed away in July of 2010.