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Woman found alive after being taken to Detroit funeral home

Southfield — A Southfield woman’s death was reported prematurely Sunday, authorities said. She was transported to a Detroit funeral home before anyone realized she was still alive.

Southfield Fire Department responded to a 911 call at about 7:35 a.m. Sunday. A woman, 20, had been reported unresponsive. Fire Chief Johnny Menifee declined to say Monday where in town the 911 call came from, citing privacy concerns, but said it was from a private home.

Medics tried “life-saving efforts” on the woman for about a half-hour, Menifee said. Despite it all, she showed “no signs of life.”

Authorities called the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office, Menifee said, which pronounced the woman dead. Menifee said the department expects to release more information later Monday.

But Bill Mullan, a spokesman for Oakland County, told The News that it was not the medical examiner’s office that made the death determination. It was a doctor at an area emergency room.

It was only after the woman was determined to be dead that the fire department reached the medical examiner.

Based on the specifics of the case, and the person’s known medical history, the medical examiner can decide whether to take custody of the body and conduct an autopsy or to release it to the family.

On Sunday it released the body to the family, Mullan said.

The James H. Cole Home for Funerals says it was then contacted to pick up the woman.

The funeral home noted “it is our practice not to comment on open investigations,” but did release a brief statement Monday.

The Cole funeral home says it was contacted to pick up the woman’s body and received clearance from the medical examiner’s office to do so.

“Upon her arrival at the funeral home, our staff confirmed she was breathing and called EMS,” the statement said.

Detroit Fire Department medics arrived at the funeral home at 16100 Schaefer, south of McNichols, and found the woman breathing, with a heart rate of 80, said Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner of the department.

“We couldn’t believe it,” Fornell said.

Detroit and Southfield fire departments offer different ages for the woman. Southfield says she’s 20, Detroit officials say she’s 14.

Medics transported her to a hospital, where she remains.

Southfield Fire Department will investigate the matter, Menifee said.

Providence Hospital in Southfield is part of the Ascension Health system. On Monday, Ascension declined comment, citing medical privacy laws.

“In accordance with applicable state and federal laws, we cannot comment publicly on specific patient related matters,” the company said in a statement.   

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