When luck meets the perseverance of the human spirit, the most incredible survival stories are born. Survival stories that amaze us and make us realize that in spite of our vulnerabilities, there’s a little fighter inside us ready to take control when the road gets bumpy. Let’s find out about these amazing survival stories, that reveal inhuman amounts of luck… and unluckiness, depending on how you look at them.
10. Frank Selak
If luck is a super power, this Croatian music teacher definitely has it. He survived a derailed train, a plane crash, three flaming cars and two bus crashes. In the process becoming both the luckiest and unluckiest man alive. After cheating death seven times, you might’ve thought Selak’s luck had run its course. But you’d be wrong. He purchased his first ever lottery ticket and won the equivalent of just over 1 million dollars at the time. He decided to give it all away to family and friends, saying his health and his wife is all he needs to be happy.
But apparently the 7 accidents weren’t the only disasters in his life; he also adds 6 previous marriages to that list.
9. Tsutomu Yamaguchi
Amazingly, this man experienced two nuclear explosions at ground zero, and survived both to tell the tale. On the 6th of August in 1945, he was in Hiroshima on a business trip when it was nuked by an American bomber. He saw a great flash in the sky, as it exploded 3 kilometers away from him. He was blown over, suffered severe burns, ruptured his eardrums, and was temporarily blinded.
He then returned home, 180 miles to the west, where he received treatment for his wounds. His home town, Nagasaki, was then hit by the second US atomic bomb to strike Japan. Despite around 200,000 people dying from the bombings, he’s the only survivor of both bombings recognized by the government of Japan. Still, he lived to the age of 93. However, he did start to suffer from radiation-related ailments later in life.
8. Paul Templer
This man spent his 20’s as a safari guide. That led him to ending up inside of a hippo for an afternoon. That day, he was taking clients down Zimbabwe’s Zambezi river. All of a sudden a range-rover sized monster hippo, of about 4 and a half meters long, and 1 and a half meters high, knocked one of his pals out of his canoe. As he paddled towards his friend, the hippo cruised towards him, rippling the water like a torpedo cutting through the water.
As he turned to grab his friend, all of a sudden, everything became dark, slimy and smelly. He was underwater, but his waist up wasn’t wet like his legs were. Turned out, he was head first, up to his waist in the hippo’s mouth. He wriggled until the hippo opened its jaws wide enough for him to make an escape. But hippos are notoriously ruthless, killing more people in Africa than any other animal, so it struck again, dragging him back under the surface.
After what felt like ages, the hippo lurched suddenly for the surface, spitting him out. But maybe it was because his feet looked tastier, as the hippo quickly swallowed Paul again, this time feet first. Though Paul scratched and punched away at it, he figured out that by holding the hippos canine tusks, which were boring through him, his flesh wouldn’t tear so much. That’s what probably led to the hippo releasing him, as it grew frustrated that he wasn’t being ripped into a hundred different pieces.
It took Paul eight agonizing hours to get to a hospital without any painkillers. He admitted that the pain was so intense, he considered suicide. In the end, his arm was crushed to a pulp, he had a wound so deep, his lung was visible and a doctor counted 40 puncture wounds on his body. He survived, and wrote a book on the ordeal
7. Matt Suter
Picture sitting on your couch doing some channel surfing. Suddenly, the floor starts ”moving like jel-o”, the wall in front of you disappears and a 150 mile-per-hour tornado takes you for a nasty ride 400 meters into the air. There’s no surviving a ride like that. That is, unless you’re Matt Suter.
In 2006, the 19-year-old Missouri native was in his grandmother’s trailer when a massive force hit the trailer, wrecking everything around him. Wearing only his underpants, Matt was sucked out of the trailer into the raging darkness beyond. By the time he regained consciousness, the twister had tossed him 400 meters away in a grass field.
He broke the record for the longest distance a human being has ever survived being flung. That record was initially held by a 9-year-old girl, who rode a tornado for 300 meters.
6. Anatoli Petrovich Bugorsky
Russian scientist Anatoli Petrovich Bugorsky is best known for accidentally sticking his head in front of charged particles that were traveling almost at the speed of light. He was checking a malfunctioning piece of equipment at the U-70 synchrotron particle accelerator when the safety mechanisms failed. Although I doubt he wanted it this way, experiencing and surviving that could be considered a contribution to science in itself. He reported seeing a flash brighter than a thousand suns, but didn’t feel any pain.
Still, over the next several days his face swelled up beyond recognition, and started peeling off, revealing the path that the proton beam had burned through his face. Though he received far in excess of a fatal dose of radiation, he survived, and even completed his Ph.D! Believe it or not, the freaky part comes just now. Looking at Burgorsky now, you’ll notice that the right half of his face has aged, while the left half looks as if it was frozen in time 22 years ago.
Maybe there’s something to it? Take that, Botox!
5. Harrison Okene
Some people would argue that a bad day at sea is still better than a good day at the office. But Harrison Okene doesn’t quite agree with that. In may 2013, Okene was working as a cook on a tugboat moving through stormy waters of the coast of Nigeria. Suddenly a rogue wave slammed into the vessel and the ship began to sink. He managed to find a small pocket of air in the engineers office. But the boat had landed upside down on the seafloor, 30 meters below the surface.
Facing a staggering number of lethal threats and forced to hear how his crewmates were devoured by sharks, he started losing hope. Three days later, a group of salvage divers looking for bodies were shocked to see a human hand waving at them through an opening in the shipwreck. Understandably, his miraculous rescue went viral after it was posted online.
4. Wenseslao Moguel
Pancho Villa was a Mexican Revolutionary general.
He was one of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Revolution, even starring in Hollywood films as himself. After his defeat by the Constitutionalists in 1915, Northern rebels faced harsh punishments by regional de facto armies. Among his supporters, was a guy called Wenseslao Moguel. He was sentenced to execution by a firing squad without trial. But Moguel had one last card up his sleeve; he was really, really good at not dying. Despite being shot 10 times including one shot to his head, Moguel survived.
He then waited for his executioners to leave and miraculously left the scene to make his way to safety, where he received medical attention and recovered.
3. Eric Nerhus
Eric Nerhus was diving for abalone selfish off Cap Howe, Sidney with his son and a group of friends. In the 10 meter deep water, visibility was very limited. Everything became even more confusing when he entered some kind of a dark cave. Seconds later, he realized the cave was actually a great white shark. His head, a shoulder and an arm were inside the shark’s mouth and 3000 teeth were biting down on his body.
When the great white started shaking him, that’s when he realized he was going to be turned into ”fish food”. Spending about two minutes in the shark’s mouth without his air supply, he used his abalone tool and stabbed the shark several times in its eye. The shark let go and circled him, after which he put his regulator back into his mouth. He then had had to slowly rise to the surface to avoid the ‘bends’ where he was pulled up by his shocked teenage son Mark.
2. Mauro Prosperi
The Marathon De Sables isn’t considered the toughest athletic event on Earth for nothing. The sixth day, 155 mile run through the Sahara desert leaves us mortals gasping for air just by thinking about it.
In 1994, Mauro Prosperi thought it was worth trying. Part way through the event, a storm caused him to lose direction, ultimately running several hundred kilometers into Algeria. After 36 hours, he ran out of food and water, so he switched to a diet of bats, the occasional desert snakes and his own urine.
Lost in one of the most inhospitable places on earth, he tried to slit his wrists. But the lack of water caused his blood to thicken and clotted the wound. He took this as a sign that he should keep living though and kept walking across the desert. On day 8, he discovered an Oasis. The next morning, he bumped into some shepherds who summoned rescuers.
Now before I tell you about the most amazing survival story of an incredibly lucky-unlucky forest ranger, here are a few honorable mentions you won’t believe.
To start, this guy, who was lucky enough to have the common sense to wear eye protection.
What you see lodged into his safety specs is an angle grinder disc. It would have most definitely blinded him if he wasn’t a sensible human. Take this as a lesson – wear your protective equipment!
Next up, a reminder to get your tetanus shot. Had this rusty nail penetrated this foot, this person would’ve felt pain like no other.
Here’s another one, but this time it went through the shoe, and between his toes!
Sure, a nail to the foot hurts, but it’s also a common way of getting tetanus, as rusty nails are a habitat for tetanus bacterium. And if you’ve watched our video on the most painful things people have experienced, you’ll know just how painful tetanus is.
Now for the luckiest driver in the world. One driver in china accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake and nearly shot off a 50ft rooftop car park. The car perched over the edge, with just enough room for them to walk away from the driver’s near-fatal mistake.
Now, onto the amazing survival story taking the top spot!
1. Roy Sullivan
The probability of someone being struck by lightning during an 80 year lifetime is about one in 10,000. So you can understand why everyone says lightning doesn’t strike twice. Everyone, except this guy.
Roy, a Virginia forest ranger was apparently a natural conductor of electricity – he beat those odds seven times. In fact, this is the odds of getting stuck 7 times in a lifetime like he did. I bet you don’t even know what that number is called. Those odds are 1 in ten octillion. Though, of course, by his nature of work, the odds would be lower for Roy, since his work exposed him to more storms than the average person.
He survived each jolt, but not unharmed. The first one only tested the waters and knocked his big toenail off. In 1969, a second strike burned off his eyebrows and knocked him unconscious. In 1970 another strike left his shoulders seared. The last jolt sent him to the hospital with chest and stomach burns, but also put him in the Guinness Book of Records for the ”Most lightning strikes survived”. In the end, When Sullivan did pass away, it was a self-inflicted bullet, not a bolt, that did him in. Reportedly, he was rejected in love, but I’d say it’s more likely he just had enough of Zeus’ thunderbolt.
So, which person did you think was the luckiest? And which ordeal would you least like to have experienced? Let me know in the comments section down below. And if you know of any other survival stories that should have made the list, tell me in the comments as I may make another article on it. Thanks for reading!
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