Dead Mississippi man begins breathing in embalming room, coroner - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Dead Mississippi man begins breathing in embalming room, coroner says

Posted: Updated:

(CNN) -- Even in the Bible Belt, coroners don't use the word "miracle" lightly.

But Holmes County, Mississippi, Coroner Dexter Howard has no qualms using the word for the resurrection, as it were, of Walter Williams, who was declared dead Wednesday night.

Howard received the call from Williams' hospice nurse, who told Howard that the 87-year-old had passed away. A family member called as well, saying the same, Howard said.

Howard and Byron Porter from Porter & Sons Funeral Home in Lexington, Mississippi, drove to Williams' home to collect the body for funeral preparations. Howard checked Williams' pulse about 9 p.m. and pronounced him dead.

"There was no pulse. He was lifeless," Howard said.

The coroner completed his paperwork, placed Williams in a body bag and transported him to the funeral home, he said. There, something strange happened: The body bag moved.

"We got him into the embalming room and we noticed his legs beginning to move, like kicking," Howard said. "He also began to do a little breathing."

They immediately called an ambulance. Paramedics arrived and hooked Williams up to monitors. Sure enough, he had a heartbeat, so they transported him to the Holmes County Hospital and Clinics.

"They were in shock. I was in shock. I think everybody at the hospital was in shock," Howard said.

Neither in his 12 years as county coroner nor during his decade as deputy coroner has Howard seen anything like it. Howard was absolutely certain Williams was dead.

The only reasonable explanation he could think of, Howard said, is that Williams' defibrillator, implanted beneath the skin on his chest, jump-started his heart after he was placed in the body bag.

"It could've kicked in, started his heart back," Howard said. "The bottom line is it's a miracle."

Overjoyed family members are thanking God for saving the life of the longtime farmer they call "Snowball."

"So it was not my daddy's time," daughter Martha Lewis told CNN affiliate WJTV. "I don't know how much longer he's going to grace us and bless us with his presence, but hallelujah, we thank Him right now!"

Nephew Eddie Hester told CNN affiliate WAPT he was at Williams' Lexington home when Howard and Porter zipped up the body bag, so he was more than a little stunned when his cousin called at 2:30 a.m. Thursday and told him, "Not yet."

"What you mean not yet?" Hester recalled asking his cousin. "He said, 'Daddy's still here.' "

"I don't know how long he's going to be here, but I know he's back right now. That's all that matters," Hester told WAPT.

Howard visited Williams on Thursday at the hospital and said he was still "a little weak" but was surrounded by family members and talking.

Mike Murphy, the coroner for Clark County, Nevada, and past president of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, said he couldn't comment on this specific case without knowing all the details, but he's read news reports of people returning to life at funeral homes "from time to time."

Asked if he'd ever heard of a case in which a defibrillator played a role in bringing someone back to life, Murphy said he hadn't, "but just because I haven't heard it doesn't mean it hasn't happened."

  • Owning Your Outdoors: Tree Care

    Owning Your Outdoors: Tree Care

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:36 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:36:12 GMT
    Doug says that the natural crown line of a tree should be easy to identify.Doug says that the natural crown line of a tree should be easy to identify.
    There are a number of reasons to prune and crown trees. Trees can grow to close to buildings, power lines or sidewalks and become a hazard. Trees can also be crowned and pruned to make them cosmetically more appealing.More >>
    There are a number of reasons to prune and crown trees. Trees can grow to close to buildings, power lines or sidewalks and become a hazard. Trees can also be crowned and pruned to make them cosmetically more appealing.More >>
  • Flooded Luverne farmer gets second chance

    Flooded Luverne farmer gets second chance

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:01 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:01:48 GMT
    The flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded.  It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmerThe flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded. It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmer
    The flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded.  It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmer.More >>
    The flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded.  It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmer.More >>
  • Mendota Heights officer killed in West St. Paul shooting

    Mendota Heights officer killed in West St. Paul shooting

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:34 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:34:05 GMT
    KSTP News confirms a Mendota Heights police officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue in West. St. Paul around noon Wednesday.More >>
    KSTP News confirms a Mendota Heights police officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Dodd Road near Smith Avenue in West. St. Paul around noon Wednesday.More >>
  • Driver arrested in morning Sioux Falls hit and run

    Driver arrested in morning Sioux Falls hit and run

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:52 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:52:33 GMT
    Sioux Falls Police identified the driver charged in this morning's SUV into house accident as 31 year old Shawn Essem, the SUV slammed into a house, nearly hitting a woman inside. More >>
    Sioux Falls Police identified the driver charged in this morning's SUV into house accident as 31 year old Shawn Essem, the SUV slammed into a house, nearly hitting a woman inside. 
    More >>
  • Effort aims for no fatalities on I-90, I-94

    Effort aims for no fatalities on I-90, I-94

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:06 AM EDT2014-07-30 14:06:07 GMT
    Law enforcement agencies in the Dakotas are joining counterparts in 13 other states in a four-day interstate enforcement campaign on Interstates 90 and 94.More >>
    Law enforcement agencies in the Dakotas are joining counterparts in 13 other states in a four-day interstate enforcement campaign on Interstates 90 and 94.More >>
  • Stickney, Corsica school districts to consolidate

    Stickney, Corsica school districts to consolidate

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:04 AM EDT2014-07-30 14:04:41 GMT
    Voters in Stickney and Corsica have overwhelmingly voted to consolidate their school districts.More >>
    Voters in Stickney and Corsica have overwhelmingly voted to consolidate their school districts.More >>
  • Sioux City riverboat casino prepares for last day

    Sioux City riverboat casino prepares for last day

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-07-30 13:20:25 GMT
    The Argosy riverboat casino is preparing to take its last bets Wednesday, having told the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission that it will close by 5 p.m. as ordered.More >>
    The Argosy riverboat casino is preparing to take its last bets Wednesday, having told the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission that it will close by 5 p.m. as ordered.More >>
  • South Dakota task force to study child sex abuse

    South Dakota task force to study child sex abuse

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:44 AM EDT2014-07-30 10:44:45 GMT
    A South Dakota task force will study the sexual abuse of children and recommend ways to address the issue.More >>
    A South Dakota task force will study the sexual abuse of children and recommend ways to address the issue.
    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KSFY. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service or our EEO Report.