It is about one of the great fears, typical of a horror movie: being buried alive.
And that was what was close to happening to a 76-year-old woman who reacted just in time inside the coffin in which she was, in full wake with relatives included.
Everything happened in Babahoyo, in central Ecuador, when a doctor at a hospital in the city pronounced Bella Montoya dead from a suspected stroke.
She was then placed in a coffin and taken to a funeral home where, after five hours, the coffin began to shake. When they opened the coffin they found the woman struggling to breathe, still wearing her hospital gown and bracelet.
“My mother began to move her left hand, to open her eyes, her mouth; she was having trouble breathing, said her son Gilbert Balberán, describing the moment he realized his mother was still alive”.A video recorded by a neighbor present at the funeral home that went viral shows the woman lying in an open coffin.
Minutes later, Bella Montoya was taken out of the crate, placed on a stretcher, and transferred to the same hospital where she had been pronounced dead.
Ecuadorian journalist Cristina Muñoz told the BBC that it is not surprising that the coffin is not opened until it arrives at the funeral home.
The cleaning of a corpse is done Sometimes in hospitals, but preparing the body and putting makeup on it before the wake is done by professionals at funeral homes,” explained Muñoz from Quito.
But this care at the funeral home does not always take place, since - In the words of Muñoz- “this ritual is usually very expensive, so families with few resources decide to do it themselves”.
Bella Montoya's son told the Ecuadorian media that his mother is in intensive care.
“My mom is on oxygen, her heart is stable. The doctor pinched his hand and he reacted, they tell me that this is good because it means that he is reacting little by little,” the son told the newspaper El Universo.
The Ecuadorian Ministry of Health created a commission to investigate the incident.
They even gave her a death certificate stating that she had died of cardiopulmonary arrest, after suffering a stroke.According to the news, journalist Munoz, the case of Bella Montoya has had a strong impact in the country and is being closely watched as his “health is still delicate and no one knows how this story will end.”
For Munoz, there are also the doors open “for your child to take legal action for negligence, malpractice, and emotional stress”.
In February there was a case similar to that of Montoya in the state of New York, United States, when an 82-year-old woman was breathing while in a funeral home, three hours after being pronounced dead in a nursing home.