Health dept investigates 'dead' woman found alive in Carletonville mortuary fridge

Gauteng's Department of Health is investigating an incident in which a woman was found alive in a mortuary fridge in Carletonville - hours after paramedics declared that she was dead.

The woman was certified dead at the scene of a pile-up outside Carletonville, west of Johannesburg, in the early hours of Sunday.

The woman's car rolled and all three occupants were flung from the vehicle. Two were killed.

Gauteng Forensic Pathology Services CEO Dr Paul Morule said on Tuesday that police called them to collect the dead bodies at the scene of the crash.

Morule added that a private emergency service declared the people dead.

"As per procedure, forensic officers collected the bodies for storage and further investigations to determine the cause of the death by [a] pathologist."

'Promptly summoned help'

Morule said a forensic officer later found her alive in a morgue fridge several hours after the crash.

He said the forensic officer "promptly summoned help" and was able to transport the woman to the nearest hospital.  

On Monday, ambulance service Distress Alert confirmed that they had certified the woman dead.

Distress Alert operations manager Gerrit Bradnick told AFP that they followed their procedures.

"All the right checks were done - breathing, pulse - so the patient was declared deceased," he said.

"The crew is absolutely devastated. We're not in the business of declaring living people dead, we're in the business of keeping people alive," Bradnick added. 

The matter has been referred to the Health Professions Council of South Africa. 

The department has been in contact with the woman's family.

Netwerk24 reported that she was still in critical condition in a Gauteng government hospital and that her family had been informed.

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