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'Dead' woman wakes up on bathroom floor

By Lynn Curwin     Oct 17, 2010 in World
Severn - A man who went to collect a body which was being donated to science got a shock when the “dead” woman he was preparing to move took a breath and moved her arm.
Eighty-nine-year-old Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson was found on the floor of her bathroom when Officer Christopher Brown and Sgt. Randy Bell, responding to neighbour’s concerns, arrived at her home on October 1.
"We hadn't seen her for four or five days," Stacie Zarriello, who lives across the street, told The Capital. "She wasn't answering the door or the phone. We checked her mailbox and it was full. The newspapers were piling up."
The officers entered the home through an unlocked side door. When they went upstairs they noticed an odour they described in a police report as being "similar to a decomposition smell."
They found Johnson on the bathroom floor, not breathing and with blue skin. Believing she had been dead for a couple of days, they did not check for a pulse.
They contacted her son, her doctor, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Because Johnson had made arrangements with the State Anatomy Board to donate her body for science, the board was contacted and they sent out employee Charles Morgan.
Three hours after police found the woman on the floor, Morgan arrived and prepared to move the body. When he heard the woman take a deep breath and saw her move her arm, he ran out of the room and called for officers.
Brown hurried to the room and saw Johnson take another breath and move her arm again. He called her name and she responded with “Arrgghh,” according to his report.
When Brown asked her about lying on the floor she told him she was on the sofa.
Johnson was taken to hospital, and has recently been released. Neighbours said she is now in a hospice.
Lt. Frank Tewey, a police spokesman, told The Capital that the incident “is currently under administrative review to ensure that proper procedures were followed.”
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