A S H L A N D, Mass., Jan. 25, 2001 -- Emergency medical technicians thought the 39-year-old woman found slumped in a bathtub was dead. So did funeral director John Matarese — until he heard a gurgling noise coming from the body bag.
"It scared me half to death," Matarese said. "The girl was
Matarese quickly unzipped the body bag and held the woman's
mouth open to keep her air passages clear. By the time emergency
technicians arrived, she was breathing. She's now hospitalized in
About 3½ hours before Matarese's discovery Saturday, the woman
had been found unconscious in cold water in her bathtub. She
apparently overdosed on pills, police said.
Police officers and emergency medical technicians were unable to
detect any signs of life. Police concluded she was an apparent
suicide victim and her body was taken to Matarese's funeral home.
"From everybody's observation, more time had elapsed than would
have allowed resuscitation," Town Administrator Dexter Blois said.
The state Department of Public Health is investigating to
determine whether emergency workers acted properly.
"The fact that they didn't take her to the hospital, just
assumed she was dead, is the big mistake," said Dr. Murray Hamlet,
a hypothermia resuscitation expert. "People have to understand
that cold, stiff, blue people can be resuscitated."