It’s a scenario played out in some variation by countless movies and TV shows: Loved ones clad in black congregate around a coffin to pay their last respects, when suddenly, the deceased himself (or herself) makes an appearance, in the flesh. A Brazilian man got to experience the real-life version of that scene last week.
Family and friends of 41-year-old car washer Gilberto Araújo were grieving at his mother’s house in Alagoinhas, about 80 miles north of the city of Salvador, last Sunday following his apparent death over the weekend. But whenAraújo walked in the door some frightened mourners ran away while others fainted, the BBC reported.
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“It was a fright,” Maria Menezes, Araújo’s mother, told Brazilian newspaper O Globo. “I’m very happy because what mother has a son that they say is dead then turns up alive?”
Police inspector Roberto Lima told reporters that the “understandable” confusion occurred after another car washer was murdered over the weekend and authorities believed it was Araújo. Police called his brother José Marcos, who then visited the mortuary and misidentified the body, which “closely resembled” his brother’s. José Marcos Araújo said he had not seen his brother in four months, the Guardian reported.
Gilberto Araújo said he heard about the error from an acquaintance who stopped him in the street.
“A friend told me there was a coffin and that I was inside it,” he told O Globo. “So I said: ‘But I’m alive, pinch me!”
The BBC reported that Gilberto Araújo tried to phone a friend who was at the wake, but his friend thought the call was a prank and hung up. With no other options, he showed up at his mother’s front door.
“He went to his mother’s home to let everyone know he was very much alive,” Lima said.
Bodies are wrongly identified more frequently than one might think. In 2010, two of Arlington National Cemetery’s top administrators lost their jobs following an investigation that found the cemetery had misidentified 200 of its 300,000 graves.