updated 02/28/2014 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/28/2014 AT 2:45 PM ET
A Mississippi man who was pronounced dead gave one funeral home a giant shock on Wednesday after he awoke inside a body bag as he was being prepared for embalming.
Walter Williams, 78, of Lexington, Miss., had been declared dead by a coroner around 9 p.m. and was transported from his house to the Porter and Sons Funeral Home in a hearse.
But he woke up two hours later and starting kicking inside the bag, alerting workers there who were startled by the turn of events, according to local TV news station WAPT.
“I stood there and watched them put him in a body bag and zipped it up,” Eddie Hester, who is Williams’ nephew, told the network.
But Williams apparently wasn’t ready to go. “He was not dead, long story short,” funeral director Byron Porter told reporters, calling the experience a first.
Williams was quickly rushed to a local hospital emergency room for treatment. And the funeral home called his grieving family to offer them some shocking but happy news that, indeed, Williams was alive, with the coroner deeming the incident a miracle.
His family agreed, describing the ordeal as a “resurrection.” They were thanking God that their loved one had not died after all.
They say Williams, who has a pacemaker, is doing much better and filled with energy. “I don’t know how long he’s gonna grace us and bless us with his presence, but hallelujah, we thank Him right now,” one relative told WAPT.