Despite the fragility of life, human survival stories prove time and again the durability of our race. Through horrific events, some people have miraculously made it through and come out on the other side. Whether it’s a hiker lost in the wilderness or a soldier trying to escape his enemies, these survivors give us a heartening story in our own times of despair. Here are 25 Crazy Human Survival Stories.
Originally thought to be dead, Matthew Allen was discovered by hikers in the Australian bush, half-blind, covered in leeches, and stricken with gangrene that slowly ate away at his feet. He was out there by himself for nine weeks with no food and only water from a nearby creek.
After his ship, Jacson-4, capsized and sunk 12 miles off the Nigerian coast, this Nigerian sailor survived for three days in an air bubble in the tugboat. Experts were amazed he survived water depths that even experienced divers could rarely survive.
When teenage race car driver Chris Stewart slammed into a barrier at high speed, he should have been killed on impact. His head was internally separated from his body. However, after hours of surgery, doctors were able to put it back together; he not only survived…he made a full recovery.
49-year-old grandmother Lorna Baillie suffered a heart attack that supposedly killed her. She was kept alive through artificial means, but the doctors assured her family she was dead. However, 45 minutes later color returned to her face and her eyes flickered. The nurses said it was normal reflexes, but her family wasn’t quite convinced. Eventually, Lorna opened her eyes and came back to life. Even after such a long time, there was no brain damage.
Lyndi Harding was told the chances of her parachute not opening was slim when she went skydiving. But on one of her jumps, the worst happened, and her parachute didn’t open. She plummeted a mile and hit the ground. She should have died but somehow survived with only a broken nose and two broken ribs. Even more amazing, she decided to go back out and skydive again.
Imagine being out of the Earth’s atmosphere, thousands of miles away in the empty vacuum of space, locked away in a tiny capsule, and your oxygen is slowly depleting. That’s what happened to the crew of the Apollo 13 mission. At the time, many assumed there was no way for them to get back, and they’d have to die out there. Fortunately, NASA devised a plan to get them back. Using the landing module as a life raft and putting together crude parts as an adapter, the crew did a slingshot around the moon and headed back home, surviving the whole ordeal.
In 1911, Bobby Leach got inside a metal tube and floated down the Niagra to fall into the watery depths below. He was the second to survive the daring feat. However, years later in 1926, he slipped on an orange peel and broke his leg. It became gangrenous which lead to his ultimate death.
Swedish man Peter Skyllberg survived in his snow encased car for two months with no food and enduring freezing temperatures. Scientists believe the snow provided two powerful ingredients for his survival: water and insulation. He used the melted snow for water and the snow enclosure created an igloo effect to keep him warm.
17-year-old Katrina Burgess endured a horrific car crash, breaking her neck, back, and ribs. She also had two punctured lungs. The doctors told her she would die without surgery and even then she would never be able to walk again. However, in five months, she made a miraculous recovery and landed a deal with a modeling agency.
Liisa and Tuomo Peltola
Liisa and Tuomo Peltola’s ski trip turned into a nightmare when they got lost and couldn’t find the hut they were looking for. Tuomo fell ill and couldn’t carry on any further. Liisa set out on her own for fifteen hours before finding someone. They set back out to find her husband. Fortunately, they found him clinging to life. However, he had to endure major surgery of his intestines and toes due to low temperatures and frost bite.
With the company of four men, Ada Blackjack was an inupiat woman who ventured out to the remote island of Wrangel, north of Siberia to claim it for Canada. Ada was hired as a seamstress and cook. However, they were shipwrecked and left alone. After the game had been depleted and their rations gone, three of the men left to find help, leaving Ada and Lorne Knight behind. Knight died of scurvy and Ada was left alone with a cat named Vic. She learned to survive in freezing conditions until someone came back to rescue her. Becoming a major celebrity of the time, she was called the “female Robinson Crusoe.”
As a fifteen-year-old, Regina Rohde survived the horrific Columbine High School shooting. She was in the cafeteria at the time and ran for her life at the sound of gunshots. This is a great survival story in and of itself. Even crazier though, is that years later, she also survived the shooting at Virgina Tech.
Bear attacks happen all the time out in the wilderness. But rarely do they happen twice by the same bear. Todd Orr was hiking in the Montana wilderness when a grizzly bear with her cubs came charging at him. She bit both his head and arms before walking away. He got up and jogged back to his car which was three miles away. However, the grizzly wasn’t done with him. She came back for seconds, biting his arm and shoulder before standing on top of him. Then she walked away again! He made it out alive, twice! He claimed he survived due to luck and preparation, knowing how to protect his vital organs by laying face down.
Most people who fall from ten stories up rarely survive, but Alcides Moreno fell 47 and lived to tell the tale. He and his brother Edgar were window washers for a New York skyscraper when the worst happened. They plummeted to the bottom. Edgar, unfortunately, didn’t make it, but Alicdes miraculously did.
George H. W. Bush
Former President George H. W. Bush was almost killed and cannibalized by Japanese soldiers in the Pacific during WWII. He and his other airmen were shot down. Nine others were captured, tortured, killed, and eaten while Bush escaped on a life raft and was rescued. He survived by getting out of his plane further away from the island.
When Christopher Jones decided to do his first solo skydiving jump, the last thing he expected was to have a seizure in mid-air. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. At 6,000 feet, he spun out of control and couldn’t right himself. His instructor was able to get to him and pull his chute, but by that time Jones was unconscious and could still die. At 2,000 feet, Jones regained consciousness. After listening to his instructor, he survived the event that almost took his life.
Believing he was doomed to die of terminal cancer, the government injected plutonium in Albert Stevens without his knowledge as part of an experiment. On May 14, 1945, he was injected with 131 kBq of plutonium which is many times over the lethal dose. Regardless of the high doses, he lived for twenty years afterward and died of heart disease. He had an effective dose of 64 SV over the twenty year period. The amount of radiation a worker can be exposed to is .05 SV. After his death, it was discovered he didn’t have cancer at all.
Salvador Alvarenga, a 36-year-old fisherman, had left El Salvador to go do what he does best. He left in a small boat and before long was swept away by a violent storm. After 438 days or roughly 14 months, he was found alive off the coast of the Marshall Islands, 6,700 miles from El Salvador.
From 1962 to 1996, Frane Selak survived several near death experiences and is considered the “luckiest unlucky person alive.” He survived a train crash, plane crash, bus crash, three car crashes plus getting hit by a bus. Each and every time he survived in incidents that took the life of others. After all the near death experiences, he won the lottery in 2003.
Russian physicist Anatoli Bugorski stuck his head inside a particle accelerator and had half his face struck by a particle beam. He said he saw a light a thousand times brighter than the sun but didn’t feel any pain. Half of his face swelled up beyond recognition at the time, but it eventually receded back to normal. Besides losing hearing in his left ear, he suffered no other side effects. Scientists say the fact that he survived at all was a miracle.
Roy Sullivan made the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Lightning Strikes Survived.” He was struck seven times over the course of his life and was called “the human lightning conductor.” His own death came in 1983 by his own hand over unrequited love.
During the Great Depression, people were always out to find a quick buck any way they could. A popular way to do this was to find local drunks who already had one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the grave and take insurance policies out in their name. Then, they’d kill them. A group of men tried to do this to Michael Malloy, but at every turn they failed to kill him. He quickly became known as the indestructible man after six murder attempts of poisoning in his alcohol and food.
Violet Jessop first started working on cruise lines with the ship the Olympic. She was on board when it had a major accident but survived. Later, she had no idea what would happen when her parents convinced her to take a job aboard the Titanic. She took their advice and became a crew member. When the Titanic was hit by an iceberg, she got on lifeboat 16 and survived. Later, she also was on board the Britannic when it crashed into a mine planted by a German U-Boat. She survived that as well. She lived to be 84 years old.
On November 3rd, 1942, Poon Lim’s ship was hit by a German U-Boat, sinking it quickly and killing all the passengers on board except for Poon Lim. He fashioned a life raft together and was lost at sea for 133 days. During that time, he fished and hunted seagulls by luring them to his boat. He’d grab them by the necks, drink their blood and used the salt water to dry out their meat and make jerky. He also pulled in a roaming shark and ate it as well. During the time he was out there, a freighter, an American plane, and a German u-boat all saw him but did nothing. It took Brazillian fishermen to bring him in and rescue him eventually.
Like survival stories? Check out these as well: 25 Amazing Stories of Survival Against All Odds.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi was a naval engineer in Hiroshima when he saw a plane overhead drop a small object in the air with a parachute. Shortly after, a bright light flashed, and he was thrust into the air by the sheer force. The blast was the first nuclear bomb dropped on the city by the Americans. Despite severe burns, he survived and headed to a train station to get to his home…in Nagasaki. When he arrived, he was taken to a hospital because of his severe burns. Of course, days later, another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Miraculously, he, his wife, and son all survived the blast, but the radiation took its toll. He thought he might die from the poisoning but slowly his body recovered. After surviving two of the most horrific attacks in human history, he lived to be 93 years old.
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