A man woke up on an autopsy table, his body already marked up for the scalpel, after three doctors had declared him dead, according to Spanish media reports.
Gonzalo Montoya Jiménez, 29, was serving time for theft in a Spanish jail. When he failed to make the morning roll call on Jan. 7, two doctors were called to examine him in his cell, declaring him dead at around 8 a.m, according to television station Telecino.
A third forensic doctor from the judicial commission then also declared him dead.
What they thought to be the dead body of Jiménez was then put in a body bag and transferred from Asturias prison to the Institute of Legal Medicine in Oviedo, the regional capital, for an autopsy.
Local newspaper La Voz de Asturias claims his snores on the autopsy table then saved him.
According to Telecino, forensic doctors realized he was still alive when they heard noises, shortly before the autopsy was to be performed, around four hours after he had first been declared dead.
His family say that his body had already been marked up ready for the autopsy, according to the BBC.
Jiménez was transferred to the Central University Hospital of Asturias. Although he had emerged from the death-like state that had fooled doctors, he did not fully recover consciousness until the next morning, according to La Voz de Asturias. The first thing he did was to ask after his wife.
Hospital sources told Teleco that they suspect it is a case of catalepsy—a condition where the patient’s vital functions slow to the point of being imperceptible, but do not stop.
Jiménez takes medication to control the symptoms of epilepsy. His relatives believe his condition may have been triggered by not being able to take his medicine at the correct times for a few weeks during his time in prison, reported La Voz de Asturias.
His family say they are convinced that the official version of events is not correct, and that only one official saw the body and that the other two merely signed the certificate.
A spokesman for the Spanish Prison Service told the Mirror: “Two prison doctors concluded he had clinical signs of death following a morning roll call and informed police, his next-of-kin and a local duty court.”
“The court sent a forensic doctor who was the one who actually confirmed his death,” the spokesman said. “I can’t comment on what happened at the Institute of Legal Medicine but three doctors have seen clinical signs of death so it’s still not clear at the moment exactly why this occurred.”
Officials say that Jiménez was “blue” when he was declared dead, according to La Voz de Asturias.