A woman from Ecuador who startled her relatives by awakening at her own funeral has now passed away after spending a week in intensive care. Bella Montoya, a retired nurse, had been declared dead following a suspected stroke before she unexpectedly regained consciousness during her wake. She was promptly rushed back to the hospital in Babahoyo, Ecuador. Tragically, the Ecuadorian health ministry announced her demise on Friday, citing a stroke as the cause of death, NBC News reports.
During her time in the intensive care unit, Montoya was under constant monitoring. Her son informed The Associated Press that she would be laid to rest in a public cemetery, and her remains were returned to the same funeral home where she had awoken.
The incident occurred on June 9 at the funeral home, where Montoya’s family heard sounds emanating from inside her coffin during the wake. A video recorded at the time revealed the coffin resting on the floor of a small, sparsely furnished room with a silver crucifix and a pedestal fan. Inside the open casket, a frail-faced woman with gray hair was observed moving her mouth while being supported by two men.
Gilberto Barbera Montoya, the son of the deceased, shared with the AP, “It gave us all a fright. After approximately five hours of the wake, the coffin started making sounds. My mom, who was wrapped in sheets, was hitting the coffin, and when we approached, we could see that she was breathing heavily.”
In response to the incident, the health ministry has formed a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the initial declaration of death and the issuance of death certificates by the hospital.