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Family smashes open daughter's grave after hearing 'screams' from inside

Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from Capitol Hill to the politics of preschool. A mother of two, a runner of races, and a gourmet chef wannabe, she currently lives outside of Orlando, Florida.

Parents say pregnant teen 'woke up' in grave after being buried alive

It's a tragic story from beginning to end. A 16-year-old girl, Neysi Perez, was declared dead and was buried after she collapsed while three months pregnant. Her family, however, believes she never really died and says she woke up in her grave. They did everything they could to get her out.

After she first collapsed, her family thought she was possessed and had a priest perform an exorcism. When that didn't work, she was taken to a hospital in Honduras, where she was pronounced dead and later buried. According to reports, doctors believe she died as a result of cataplexy, which is a condition caused by extreme amounts of stress (she collapsed after hearing gunshots fired outside her home).

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The family was understandably shocked and beside themselves with grief, so when they visited her grave the day after she was buried and heard what they believed to be her voice and banging, they were filled with hope. So much hope that they smashed into the tomb to rescue her. They say her body was still warm and that her fingertips were bruised — apparently from trying to climb out of the grave.

She was then taken to a hospital, but unfortunately, there was no miraculous story to come of her survival. Instead she was declared dead again and reburied.

More: 'You're never free of the grief' — women on tragically losing a spouse

So what really happened? Could she have been buried alive? It's unlikely, though there have been cases over the years of people actually being buried alive. Most were years ago, and advanced medical technology makes it almost impossible, but there is still a smattering of cases that make us wonder, such as that of 78-year-old Walter Williams of Mississippi, who woke up in a body bag before being embalmed after he was mistakenly declared dead last year.

More: Telling someone to 'cheer up' is not a coping method that helps

Still, today, given the number of tests doctors perform to determine death — measurements of brain waves, heartbeat and respiration — the chances are extremely rare, though perhaps higher in countries like Honduras, where medical technology isn't as advanced. What seems more likely, however, is that this grieving family wanted so badly to believe their daughter wasn't gone forever that they heard what they wanted to believe.

In any case, our hearts go out to this family.

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