A 63-year-old Sylmar man who collapsed in his home workshop and was pronounced dead by paramedics before he suddenly revived nearly two hours later is recovering in a Mission Hills hospital with no memory of his brush with death, the man's wife said Saturday.
Sylvia Smith, 63, said her husband, Kenneth, is "doing great physically" and should be released from Holy Cross Hospital within a few days. The hospital listed Smith in serious but stable condition.
"But he's confused. He doesn't even know what happened to him. He told me he thought he was in the hospital for an operation," said Sylvia Smith.
Kenneth Smith was working on electronic equipment in a backyard shed Thursday afternoon when his wife became worried because she could not get a response from him. She said her husband, who works at night, had consumed several beers and taken several tranquilizers in an unsuccessful effort to cope with insomnia. He gave up and and went out to the shed where he rebuilds radios and televisions.
He often locked the shed door to keep out intruders, Sylvia Smith said.
Paramedics, who forced open the lock, found Smith sprawled across a workbench. After finding no signs of life, they pronounced him dead at 3:35 p.m.
But at 5:15 p.m., a deputy coroner thumped Smith's back while examining him, and Smith's mouth dropped open. The coroner pulled a wad of chewing tobacco from Smith's throat and Smith began breathing again.
The two paramedics have been assigned desk duty while the incident is under investigation.
"Anybody that says those paramedics didn't do their job is full of manure," Mrs. Smith said. "They tried to find a pulse and breathing. They were in there taking turns on him for 15 minutes or more. Finally, they said, 'We can't find any pulse. There is no breathing. The man is dead.'
"The coroner came and he somehow moved Kenny's body or did something to Kenny's body and he jumped," Smith's wife said.
She said she watched out the window as the deputy coroner and police worked on her husband's body.
"A couple of them got up and started laughing," the wife recalled. I thought, 'Why are they laughing with a dead man?' For a split second, it made me mad.
"Then the tall policeman said, 'Find a chair and sit down. I've got something to tell you.' He says, 'Your husband's alive.' I said 'What? After two hours?' He said, 'I don't believe it either.' "To tell you the truth, I didn't know how I felt. I felt numb. I didn't cry. You don't grasp these things until later. First the man's dead, now the man's alive," she said, adding that she believes in God, and is not surprised at her husband's revival.
"I've heard of a lot of cases of things coming back to life."