Mississippi man pronounced dead, wakes up a short time later

On Wednesday night, Walter Williams was pronounced dead, placed into a body bag and brought to a funeral home. That’s about when he started moving his legs.

Dexter Howard, the coroner for Holmes County, Miss., said he was called to Williams’s house by a member of Williams’s family and a hospice nurse shortly before 9 p.m. that night. He was told that Williams, 78, had passed away.

When Howard arrived at the house in Lexington, about an hour north of Jackson, family members were gathered around Williams’s bed.

“I went in and checked his pulse…there was no pulse,” Howard said Friday morning. A hospice nurse had also checked and not detected a pulse, he said.

So Howard filled out his paperwork and, along with someone from Porter and Sons Funeral Home in Lexington, transported Williams to the funeral home.

Williams was in a body bag at the funeral home when people realized that he was moving. His legs were moving, and he was breathing, Howard said. So they contacted his family and got an ambulance to take him to a nearby hospital.

“It’s a miracle. Hey, people need to know that God is still in charge,” Howard said. He added, chuckling: “He has the last say, not the coroner.”

Howard said he believes Williams had been suffering heart problems, and that it’s possible his pacemaker may have caused the issue.

The coroner visited Williams on Thursday at the hospital and said he’s still a little weak but that he’s holding on. Williams’s family is overwhelmed and full of joy, he said.

As for Howard, he said he’s never experienced anything quite like this. The next time he’s called to check someone, he’s going to do what he does all the time.

“I’m going to go in and…basically just try to be sure that the person is deceased,” he said.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · February 27