At funeral home, 'dead' Mississippi man kicks to escape body bag

LEXINGTON, Mississippi Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:08pm EST

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LEXINGTON, Mississippi (Reuters) - A funeral director and coroner in Mississippi got the shock of their lives this week when a man put in a body bag because he was believed to be dead kicked to get out just before they began the embalming process.

"He was not dead, long story short," funeral director Byron Porter told local TV station WAPT.

The man, 78-year-old Walter Williams, had been pronounced dead on Wednesday after the coroner arrived at his home in Lexington and found no pulse. Williams was then taken to the funeral home.

"I stood there and watched them put him in a body bag and zip it up," Williams' nephew, Eddie Hester, told the broadcaster.

But at the funeral home, Williams began to breathe and kick, Holmes County Coroner Dexter Howard said in an interview. Howard said Williams has a defibrillator that may have fired up his heart again.

Paramedics picked Williams up from the funeral home and took him to an area hospital, where he has been receiving treatment.

His daughter said that Williams, who was nicknamed "Snowball" because he was born during a rare Mississippi snowstorm, was in stable condition on Friday and had been talking with family members.

"He said he thought he was asleep," Mary Williams said of her father's account of what happened. "Then he woke up in the hospital. He doesn't remember any of it, really."

(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernadette Baum and Bernard Orr)

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