Officials in South Africa are investigating an incident where a woman was declared dead at the scene of a crash, taken to a morgue, placed in a freezer and then discovered to be alive.
Gauteng’s Department of Health is investigating a June 24 crash that occurred west of Johannesburg where three people were flung from a vehicle and two were killed, according to local news source News24.
Paramedics declared three people dead at the scene, and forensic officers transported the bodies to a morgue. Several hours later, an officer discovered a woman from the crash was alive in a morgue freezer, the publication reports.
The determination of death was made by Distress Alert paramedics, who followed all protocols to check for life, Distress Alert operations manager Gerrit Bradnick told local news source TimesLIVE.
“This did not happen because our paramedics are not properly trained. There is no proof of any negligence by our crew‚” he said.
Bradnick told the New York Times that the accident that led to mis-declaration occurred in a bad stretch of road where paramedics were in danger as they responded to the crash: “Cars were coming at high speed and we kept having to run away through the ditches. It was absolute chaos.”
There is no national government oversight of ambulance businesses in the region, according to the Times. However, ambulance workers must register with the nation’s Health Professionals Council.
“Anyone can open an ambulance service — it’s completely unregulated outside the Western Cape,” Jo Park-Ross, a paramedic in Cape Town, told the publication.
The woman remained hospitalized and in critical condition, a spokesman for the Gauteng provincial health department told the Times on Monday.