• Christina Corsetti, H.S.

Waking Up Trapped In the Morgue

The Legend:

The greatest fear of anyone checking into the hospital is that they’ll never check out. But there’s something far worse (and we’re not even talking about the bill): imagine you’re on the way to the Emergency Room, when you pass out. The next time you awaken, it’s cold. It’s pitch dark. Every single breath is a struggle, and you barely have room to move.

“Oh, no! They’ve put me back in the womb!”

You’re not buried alive — if you were, you might have stood a chance. No, you’ve been mistaken for dead, body-bagged, and chucked into a fridge at the morgue … and those suckers aren’t meant to be opened from the inside (because zombies and/or vampires, obviously).

The Truth:

On July 26, 2011, Maria de Jesus Arroyo, an 80-year-old great-grandmother, was rushed to White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, where doctors quickly declared her dead of cardiac arrest via the foolproof method of “How old? Yep, she’s dead.” Mrs. Arroyo was then popped into a Ziploc and wheeled off to the morgue while the doctors and nurses went back to watching House, feeling content with a job indifferently done.

Later, when funeral home employees came to pick up Mrs. Arroyo’s body to prepare it for the funeral, they found her lying face down on the floor of the refrigeration chamber. After presumably poking her with the longest stick they could find until they were satisfied that she was not, in fact, the undead, they discovered that her body bag was also partially unzipped, she was covered in cuts and bruises, and her nose was broken. Initially, her family thought some lowly nurse-in-training had accidentally dumped her off of a gurney (or maybe the morgue staff had hung her from the ceiling for a little light bag training), but a pathologist they hired came to an even more disturbing conclusion.

When the doctors declared her dead, Mrs. Arroyo was merely unconscious. She remained unconscious as they zipped her up, snoozed right through being slid into the freezer, and continued her visit to dreamland as the freezer door clanked shut. But then she woke up. And then she panicked. All those injuries that the funeral home later discovered? They were self-inflicted as she desperately tried to twist, turn, and claw her way free from her cramped and cold prison, only to slowly, agonizingly freeze to death.

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