Some people like to believe that death is predestined; if it’s your day to die you will die no matter what (kind of like Final Destination) but if it’s not your day you can survive even when the odds are stacked against you.
No matter what you believe these stories will still surprise you. These are people who faced dire situations, endured near fatal injuries, and somehow still managed to pull through. Most of these were freak accidents; parachutes that didn’t open, dangerous equipment that malfunctioned, plane crashes, and skiing accidents. Their injuries were so bad that people believed that they couldn’t possibly make it, but somehow these folks beat all the odds.
It’s inspiring to know that no matter how bad you think things are, you can survive if you have the will to do so. We may think of the human body as a fragile thing, but these stories prove once again just how resilient human beings can actually be. If you have the desire to live you can pull through and have the best bar story ever – bonus!
Here are 15 incredible stories of people who survived freak accidents and injuries, and lived to tell the tale…
15. Umm…Where Is This Patient’s Heart?
In 2014, a 48-year-old Italian man was brought to the hospital after he had been involved in a motorbike accident. The man appeared to have a chest injury but he was still fully conscious. The first thing the doctors wanted to do was listen to his heart, but shockingly they couldn’t find it. The heart was not where it was supposed to be. After confirming that the man did not have dextrocardia (a birth defect that results in the heart being on the right-hand side of the chest instead of the left side) they investigated further.
It turned out that his heart and the major blood vessels that connect to it had moved as a result of the accident. He had a ruptured lung and the air leaking into the chest cavity had caused his ticker to relocate. Once the air was drained everything returned to its normal position and he made a full recovery.
14. Struck With A Proton Beam
Science can sometimes be dangerous and Anatoli Bugorski will certainly agree with that.
In 1978 Bugorski was working as a researcher at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Russia. He was working with a particle accelerator similar to the one used today at CERN. One morning he was leaning over the machine checking on a piece of equipment that had malfunctioned when the safety mechanism failed. His head was directly in the path of the proton beam at the time and he received a direct hit. He felt no pain at the moment the proton beam struck him, but said he saw a flash “brighter than a thousand suns”.
13. Chainsaw Lands On Man’s Neck
Forthan Murff once told a reporter that he had three major loves during his life – music, Jesus, and chainsaws.
Murff was an avid lumberjack, but it was his trusty chainsaw that almost took his life. While out cutting down trees on his own one day in 1984 a heavy branch landed on top of him, breaking his leg and pushing him into a ditch. But the worst was still to come. His chainsaw, still running, landed on top of his neck. This tough as nails man managed to free himself, drive to a neighbors house and get to the hospital. Doctors found that the chainsaw had severed his windpipe, esophagus, and major veins. Thankfully it had not cut into his aorta or spine.
12. The Exploding Toilet
Okay, you might snigger a little at this next story but you’ll certainly agree that you wouldn’t want it to happen to you.
Michele Pierre, a resident of Brooklyn, New York, had a serious run in with a toilet. A contractor had been installing a backflow prevention valve and the water to his apartment block had been switched off during the day. When the water was turned back on later that night Michele went to use his loo. But when he flushed, the toilet exploded into thousands of pieces of razor sharp porcelain. A large piece of the bowl hit him in the head and the shards lacerated his face, arms, and legs. He was rushed to the hospital where he received a total of 30 stitches. Had he been sitting on the toilet at the time of the explosion, he would have almost certainly been killed.
11. Shot Through The Head With A Fishing Spear
Often a serious head injury can spell certain death, especially when an object becomes impaled in the skull. But if it’s not your day to die you might just get lucky – just like Yasser Lopez did.
Yasser was 16 years old when he went on a fishing trip with a group of friends. During the trip he had a freak accident – while messing around with a gas-powered fishing spear he triggered it and shot a 3ft spear into his head. Although he has no memory of the accident itself, he remained conscious all the way to the hospital.
The spear had not exited out the back of his skull, but the doctors found that it was just underneath the skin. They operated to carefully remove the spear and although it has affected his motor skills they anticipate that Yasser will eventually make a full recovery.
10. Run Over By A Train
Truman Duncan worked at a railway yard and part of his job involved moving trains from one spot to another. But in 2006 Truman had a terrible accident which should have taken his life, but somehow he managed to survive.
While moving a train to a repair dock, he slipped and fell onto the tracks. Before he could push himself away 9,000 kilograms of train rolled right over the middle and lower part of his body. Unbelievably Truman remained conscious and managed to use his cell phone to call for help.
It took more than 23 operations to repair the damage and in the process, he lost his left leg, a part of his right leg, his pelvis, and one kidney. But the point is that he lived to tell the tale – not something many people who have tangled with trains have been able to do.
9. Trapped Under The Ice
Anna Bågenholm, an orthopedic surgeon, was enjoying a skiing trip in Norway in 1999 when she had a chilling accident. She lost control of her skis which sent her hurtling towards a frozen stream. Unable to stop herself, she fell onto the ice, but it wasn’t over yet. She slid through a crack in the ice and plunged into the frozen water. She was trapped there, with her body submerged in the freezing water for nearly an hour and a half. After 40 minutes she suffered circulatory arrest.
Rescuers didn’t give up on Anna and rushed her to the hospital where doctors slowly began to warm her body again. After nine hours of methodical work, Anna came back to life. Doctors credit her survival to the extreme cold, which slowed her metabolism, allowing her cells to survive with very little oxygen.
8. A Metal Rod Right Through The Head
With modern medicine, most of us have a better chance of survival following a freak accident, but in the 1800’s there was nothing like it. Yet, Phineas Gage managed to survive against all the odds.
Gage was a railway worker and his job was to clear rocks away so that the tracks could be laid. He did this using an iron rod to squeeze explosives between the rocks and then lighting a fuse to ignite the explosives. But one day this process went terribly wrong.
The explosives went off sooner than expected and the blast drove the metal rod (which weighed approximately 6 kilograms) into his face, through the left side of the brain and out the top of the skull. He lost the eye, but was able to recover, although it did cause lasting personality changes.
7. Paraglider Sucked Up Into Powerful Storm
Ewa Wisnierska is a champion German paraglider who is part of a national Paragliding team that has won the Paragliding World Cup on several occasions.
On Valentine’s Day, 2007 Ewa was training for the Paragliding World Championship in Australia and despite a severe weather warning, Ewa decided to go ahead with her practice.
A short while into her training Ewa got trapped in the updraft between two thunderstorms and became trapped. The storm lifted her to a maximum height of 32,634ft (higher than the summit of Everest) in freezing conditions with heavy winds. The lack of oxygen caused her to pass out for more than an hour. With lightning and hail all around her, she drifted through the storm and finally regained consciousness and was able to land about 3.5 hours later. She survived with no serious injuries and continues to paraglide.
6. Freefall To Earth At 70 Miles Per Hour
If we find ourselves brave enough to want to skydive the first step is finding a skydiving instructor right? It gives us a sense of safety, knowing that the person we are with has done loads of jumps without incident.
But just because someone is a skydiving instructor it doesn’t mean that they are immune to accidents. Just ask Michael Holmes.
Michael, an instructor from New Zealand, found himself in a desperate situation when, during a jump in 2009, both his main parachute and his backup chute failed to open. Freefalling at 70 miles an hour should have killed him, but luckily a blackberry bush broke his fall. He broke his ankle and suffered a collapsed lung, but it should have been so much worse.
5. Accidentally Shot In The Face
It’s truly heartwarming to read about people that have not only survived a terrible accident but also been given a new lease on life. Richard Lee Norris is one of these people.
In 1997 Richard was handling a shotgun and when he put it down on the table in front of him it discharged – shooting him in the face. Although he managed to survive the gruesome accident, his life was forever changed. He lost his nose, the movement of his mouth, his lips, and his sense of taste. He was so badly disfigured that he became a recluse because strangers said hurtful things to him and behind his back.
But 15 years later Richard was granted another chance when a doctor offered to help him with a face transplant. During the surgery, they also repaired his jaws, gave him a new set of teeth and a new tongue. Now Richard has no problem going out into the world and has even fallen in love.
4. Car Accident Left Him With Half A Head
You’re looking at the picture and I know that you’re thinking it can’t be for real. But there’s no Photoshop here. This is a real photo of a man named Carlos Rodriguez, who is affectionately known as “Halfy” by his friends.
Carlos was 14 years old when he was involved in a serious car accident which he says was caused by drinking and drugs. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and got ejected when the vehicle crashed. You can just imagine the injuries he sustained. How he survived is not clear, but the point is that he did, even with a good part of his skull missing.
3. Solo Pilot Survives Plane Crash In The African Bush
Greg Rasmussen is a wildlife conservationist who has dedicated his life to studying the African Wild Dog. While out tracking animals in a small aircraft in 2003 strong winds pummelled his plane and caused him to go into a spin. He crashed into the African bush – all alone.
Greg broke both his legs and his pelvis in the crash and had to crawl using just his arms to get away from the plane wreckage that was leaking fuel. He quickly became dehydrated in the sweltering heat and when the sun set a lioness began to stalk him.
Miraculously Greg managed to survive the night and was rescued the following day. Doctors feared that they would not be able to save his legs, but after numerous operations, Rasmussen was able to return to the work he loves.
2. Horrifying Power Drill Vs. Skull Accident
Working in construction means working with power tools so safety is always paramount. Because you really don’t want to have an accident like the one Ron Hunt had.
In 2003 Ron was working on a construction job in California. He was up a ladder working with an industrial power drill when suddenly the ladder gave way and he fell to the ground. Following standard safety procedures, he tried to throw the drill away from himself, but it didn’t work and he landed on top of it. The massive drill bit went through his eye and out the back of his skull.
He was rushed to the hospital where doctors were astounded that the drill bit had caused no damage to Ron’s brain. Somehow it had moved his brain tissue to the side instead of going through it. His eye was quite badly damaged, but other than that he was able to make a full recovery.
1. Struck By Lightning – Twice!
As a rodeo clown, Casey Wagner already had a dangerous job. But during a rodeo in Texas in 2013 it wasn’t a raging bull that got him, it was Mother Nature.
When a sudden storm blew in, Casey and his friends made a fateful decision – they took shelter under a tree, which we don’t recommend during a storm. Moments later he heard a loud boom as the tree was struck by lightning and the force dropped Casey down onto his knees. But it wasn’t over yet. Before he could even register what had happened, he was struck again. Astonishingly Casey had no major injuries, only some soreness, and numbness. We don’t know what is more impressive – being a rodeo clown or being struck by lightning twice and living to see another day.