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Woman who revived and knocked on coffin at her own funeral in Ecuador has now died

Bella Montoya shocked relatives by waking up at her own funeral about a week ago having been declared dead following a suspected stroke.
/ Source: NBC News

An Ecuadorian woman who regained consciousness at her own funeral has now died after spending a week in intensive care, the country’s health ministry said over the weekend.

Relatives of retired nurse Bella Montoya were shocked to hear noises coming from her coffin earlier this month after she was declared dead following a suspected stroke. She was rushed straight back to the hospital in Ecuador’s central city of Babahoyo, where officials described her condition as “unstable” and her family said doctors hadn’t given them much hope of a recovery.

Late Friday, the Ecuadorian health ministry said in a statement that Montoya, 76, had died, giving her cause of death as a stroke. It said she had been under constant monitoring while in the ICU.

Her son told The Associated Press that she will be buried at a public cemetery. Her remains are now back at the same funeral home where she woke up.

It was at that funeral home that the family heard noises coming from inside Montoya’s coffin during her wake June 9, just hours after she had been declared dead at the city’s Hospital Martín Icaza Babahoyo.

Dead woman revives during her own wake in Ecuador.
76-year-old Bella Montoya is aided inside her coffin in Babahoyo, Ecuador, on June 9, 2023. AP

Video filmed at the time showed the coffin resting on the floor of a small, bare, light-blue room furnished with a silver crucifix and a pedestal fan. Inside the open casket was a woman with a gaunt face and gray hair, who was moving her mouth up and down as two men supported her head.

“It gave us all a fright,” her son, Gilberto Barbera Montoya, told the AP. “After about five hours of the wake, the coffin started to make sounds. My mom was wrapped in sheets and hitting the coffin, and when we approached we could see that she was breathing heavily.”

The health ministry has formed a committee to conduct an investigation into how the first declaration of death happened, and how the hospital issues death certificates.

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