A man who had fallen from the Kessock Bridge at Inverness in Scotland on Friday was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead.
But coroners received a brief scare when the man began showing "potential signs of life." No word has been made yet as to the details of these signs. An investigation is being carried out by the procurator fiscal — a public prosecutor in Scotland who investigates all deaths — and by the Highland National Health Service (NHS Highland). The Scottish Ambulance Service said it is also reviewing the case.
Soon after the signs of life, the man was pronounced dead — again.
The first time the man was pronounced dead, he was found floating in the sea, and had been "for some time," the rescuers said.
Following a 999 call from the mortuary, Raigmore hospital dispatched an ambulance and a cardiac arrest team to assist him after Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Kessock pulled the man from the water on Friday.
"Despite active resuscitation being carried out by the crew with no response, a clinical assessment was undertaken including ongoing cardiac monitoring and confirmed that the patient had died," a spokesman on the case said.
The NHS Highland declined for further comment, saying investigation is still pending. A spokesman for RNLI, a charity that saves lives around the seas in Great Britain and surrounding areas, also declined to comment.
"This incident is now the subject of investigation by other organizations," he said. "And therefore it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this stage."
Interestingly, the man's case could potentially (if briefly) fall into one of two dozen other cases of spontaneous return of circulation, also known as Lazarus syndrome. Some 25 cases since 1982 have been reported where a patient shows no vital signs after minutes of resuscitation, but awakes soon after a pronouncement of death.
Such was the case in 2007 when a Delaware woman entered the hospital suffering from a heart attack. When she went into cardiac arrest after 45 minutes, doctors gave her multiple medicines and synchronized shocks. But when her pulse never returned, they pronounced her dead. Only later at the morgue did someone realize the "corpse" was still breathing.
The woman now suffers from brain damage, liver damage, chest pain, memory loss, slurred speech, and personality changes as a result of the medicine and treatment she received at the hospital.