People who ‘returned from the dead’ – from banging coffin to snoring at morgue

It's the ultimate near-death experience – being declared officially a corpse, only to wake up alive!

We revealed that a Chinese pensioner from a Shanghai nursing home was saved from being cremated after undertakers saw the body bag he was in moving.

In another case a Peruvian woman apparently killed in a car crash was found knocking on the lid of her coffin. She was taken to hospital, only to die again.

But there have been plenty of miracle escapes…

Buried alive

In 1915 American Essie Dunbar appeared to have died after an epileptic seizure. On the day of the funeral her coffin was lowered into her grave when her sister arrived late, begging to see her sibling one last time. The casket was opened only for Essie to sit up smiling, then get out and walk. She lived for another 47 years.


Frenchman Angelo Hays, 19, was declared dead after hitting his head in a 1937 motorbike accident and was buried, only to be exhumed two days later for an autopsy over an insurance claim. Doctors found his body warm. He’d just been unconscious and eventually recovered.


In 1996 farmer’s wife Daphne Banks, from Huntingdon, was declared dead at hospital on New Year’s Day and sent to the mortuary, only for an undertaker to notice the 61-year-old’s veins twitch on the slab 34 hours later. She was very much alive.


Young local farmer Matthew Wall was set to be buried in Braughing, Herts, in 1571 when pallbearers slipped and dropped his coffin. Wall, who was alive, awoke, banged on the lid and was let out. He got married, had two sons and lived for 20 more years.


A doctor had decided that Budh Ram, 95, from Rajasthan in India was dead in 2018, but when his grieving family started giving his body a ritual wash he started shivering and came round, saying he’d just been having a nap.


‘Deceased’ Gerry Allison was in the back of a hearse in 1977 in Los Angeles, when a burst tyre saw it crash. Stunned witnesses saw him get out of the back of the mangled vehicle and walk away. The crash had brought him out of a deep coma.


Maggie Dickson was hanged in Edinburgh in 1724 for murdering her baby. But she cheated the noose, coming round in her coffin on the way for burial. It was declared an act of God and ‘Half Hangit Maggie’ was set free.

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Spaniard Gonzalo Montoya Jiménez – pronounced dead by three different doctors – was about to be given an autopsy in 2018 when mortuary workers found him gently snoring.


The body of ‘dead’ Bishop Nicephorus Glycas was displayed in a Greek church for mourners in 1896, when he suddenly sat up wanting to know what all the fuss was about.


Chinese woman Li Xiufeng, 95, was placed in a coffin at her home, ahead of her burial in 2012. But six days after her apparent death a neighbour found it empty, then discovered her calmly cooking in the kitchen.

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