Maria De Jesus Arroyo: Frozen Alive

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Imagine yourself waking up, ready to enjoy the scent of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, but found yourself trapped inside of a cold metal coffin instead.

Sadly, this tragedy occurred in July 2010, when Maria de Jesús Arroyo, 80, was declared dead after suffering a heart attack at White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights, CA. After her family said their last good-byes, she was placed inside of a body bag in a freezer compartment face-up in the hospital’s morgue.

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According to court documents, once morticians received her body several days later, she was found face down with a broken nose and numerous lacerations and bruises to her face, with half of the body bag unzipped. She was so badly disfigured that the morticians were not able to properly mask her injuries.

Arroyo’s family initially sued the hospital for negligence due to mishandling of her body, since they had seen Arroyo after her death and she did not have any injuries to her face at that time.

Once the case went to court, however, pathologist William Louis Manion gave his shocking expert opinion as to what really happened, and it turned out to be most everyone’s worst nightmare: Maria de Jesús Arroyo had been frozen alive and actually died of hypothermia and asphyxiation. Manion stated that Arroyo “was alive in the hospital’s freezer [and] eventually woke up due to extreme cold and suffered the injuries herself attempting to escape her frozen tomb.”

The negligence lawsuit was eventually dropped, with the family then filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. According to court documents, the hospital reportedly had inconsistent records of Arroyo’s EKG that would have helped determine if her heart had indeed stopped beating.

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