Her body was cold and stiff. No pulse. No respiration.

Indeed, the cloak of death covered Nancy Vitale so completely, everyone thought she was dead. They were wrong.More than two hours after the Brooklyn woman was officially pronounced dead Monday night, a medical examiner noticed she was breathing.

The 40-year-old teacher was in critical condition at Coney Island Hospital with an undisclosed ailment Tuesday. Authorities tried to sort out how a person who lay dying at the feet of a medical examiner was mistaken for a corpse.

The city's Emergency Medical Service team and the city medical examiner's office denied any negligence.

Vitale's landlord found her in her basement apartment in the borough of Brooklyn on Monday evening.

The landlord called 911 and an EMS technician pronounced the woman dead less than a half hour later, police said. The medical examiner arrived, and after finding no signs of life more than two hours later, he ruled her dead, police said.

But while the examiner was seated at a table doing paperwork and interviewing family members, he noticed Vitale breathing, about three hours after she was found.

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