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'I know I felt a pulse,' says godmother to woman Southfield Fire paramedics said had died

Posted at 5:54 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 18:44:14-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — "I've been a nurse for 38 years and I kinda know when there's a pulse and when there's not," said Savannah Spears who is godmother to Timesha Beauchamp, a 20-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who was mistakenly declared dead by paramedics Sunday at her family's home in Southfield.

Sunday morning, Timesha's family found her unresponsive and called 911.

And between 7:30 am and 8:00 am, her family's attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, said paramedics and police had declared Timesha dead and then placed her body in a body bag to allow the family to contact a funeral home to pick her up.

But before paramedics left the house, Ms. Spears said she discovered Timesha had a pulse.

"I was holding her in my arms and as I prayed, I was feeling for a pulse," she said. "It was faint but I felt a pulse."

Ms. Spears says paramedics dismissed her.

According to Fieger, the family was told that any movement was involuntary and a result of the drugs that had been administered in trying to revive Timesha.

Fieger also suspects that Timesha's medical history may have factored into the wrong decision being made to declare her dead.

"I believe her relatively fragile condition probably contributed to the false belief by the authorities that she had deceased," said Fieger.

Because of her health issues, Timesha, who has a twin brother, is on three breathing treatments a day, according to Fieger.

Fieger said Southfield's first responders were the ones to put Timesha in a body bag and her family contacted the James H. Cole Funeral Home in Detroit. A funeral home worker arrived to pick up Timesha in that body bag by 11:00 am.

By 11:45 am, a worker, who was about to embalm Timesha, unzipped the body bag and found her eyes were open and she was breathing.

The funeral home called 911 and Timesha was rushed to Sinai Grace Hospital, which is located just about a half-mile away from the funeral home on Schaefer on Detroit's west side.

Timesha remains on a ventilator and she's listed in critical condition.

Timesha's family says they are devastated and asking people to pray for her and also keep them in prayer.

Because of COVID-19 procedures at the hospital, Timesha's family can only spend an hour a day with her.

For two days now, 7 Action News has been asking to interview Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee.

On Monday, Michael Manion, spokesman for the City of Southfield, said Menifee would not be conducting any interviews at this time.

On Tuesday, 7 Action News asked for an interview with Menifee or the department's EMS Coordinator to talk in general about how a mistake in declaring someone dead could have been made.

Fieger said that, to his knowledge, no city official has even reached out to the family with an apology or to even let them know personally that there is an internal investigation underway.

According to a spokesman for the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office, an investigator waived the need for what they thought was Timesha's dead body to be brought to them for autopsy because Southfield Police advised them of her known medical history and indicated foul play was not suspected.

Sources tell 7 Action News that an emergency room physician at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield was on the phone when he pronounced Timesha dead, but that decision was based on information provided to the doctor by the paramedics on scene.

"The City of Southfield is currently conducting a thorough internal investigation in addition to the Oakland County Medical Control Authority (OCMCA) which will be reporting their findings to the State of Michigan Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness (BETP),"
said city spokesman Michael Manion in a statement Monday. "In an effort to provide as much transparency as possible, more information will be provided as it is available.”

No other information has been released.

Timesha's godmother, Savannah Spears, would encourage additional training to prevent another possible tragedy.

"I would hope they would learn that the next time, maybe, they should take the initiative to take the patient from the home to hospital before they make a final decision," she said.

Fieger said he will conduct his own investigation on behalf of Timesha and her family. "Our main concern, along with the family, is her survival and her well being."