(CBS/AP) What's it like to wake up inside a morgue fridge? A South African man got the scare of his life after doing just that.
The unidentified man - who was mistaken for dead after being knocked out by an asthma attack - woke up Sunday afternoon, about 21 hours after his family had called an undertaker, according to a spokesman for the Eastern Cape department of health, Sizwe Kupelo.
The morgue's owner, Ayanda Maqolo, said he sent his driver to collect the "body" shortly after the family reported the apparent death. "When he got there, the driver examined the body, checked his pulse, looked for a heartbeat, but there was nothing," Maqolo said, adding that he thought the man was about 80.
But a day after the man was put in the locked refrigerated compartment, morgue workers heard someone yelling for help. They thought it was a ghost, Magolo said. The man was freed only after the police were called.
Is there a lesson here? Kupelo, the health department spokesman, thinks so. He urged South Africans to call on health officials to confirm that their relatives are really dead.
That sounds like a good idea. A trained health official knows to pronounce someone dead only after following strict guidelines. In addition to checking for a pulse, these call for checking pupils for response to light, checking for response to touch, checking for heart sounds, and checking for breathing.
And the unlucky man? He was taken to a nearby hospital and later discharged after doctors deemed him stable. His family was informed that he was alive during a family meeting convened to make funeral arrangements.
Said Magolo, they're very happy to have him home.