These are 8 amazing people who survived near death experiences. Despite facing certain death, they survived the impossible. Watch these amazing stories now!
We all die; it’s an inevitable part of life. Yet a select few have managed to prolong their lives despite facing considerable odds against them. Here are eight fortunate souls who have cheated death.
8: Aron Ralston
April 26th, 2003: avid outdoorsman Aron Ralston is hiking by himself in Blue John Canyon, Utah when a boulder comes loose & lands on his right hand, causing it get to stuck between the boulder & the canyon wall. The boulder weighed an estimated 800 pounds so any attempt at moving it proved useless. Furthermore, Ralston had not informed anyone of his trip, so no one would even know where to begin searching for him if he went missing. He tried many different ways to free his arm over the course of four days, but nothing seemed to work. It wasn’t until the fifth day that he ran out of food & water & resorted to drinking his own urine. Assuming he was going to die, Ralston carved his name & date of birth into the canyon wall then used a video camera he had brought to record his goodbyes to family & friends.
Then he had an idea. He figured that by breaking the bones in his forearm, he could then use his knives—which were not sharp enough to amputate his hand otherwise—to cut off part of his own arm & free himself. And that’s exactly what he did. It took him an hour to perform this bloody procedure, but he successfully managed to amputate part of his arm in order to escape from the boulder. He then rappelled down the rest of the canyon, where he stumbled upon a family of hikers who gave him food & water while they sought help. Ralston lost nearly 40 pounds during the entire ordeal, including a great deal of blood. It’s believed that had he cut off his arm earlier, he would’ve bled to death and had he waited any longer, he would have died in the canyon.
Ralston went on to write a book about this entire experience called Between a Rock and a Hard Place & was the subject of the feature film 127 hours, starring James Franco. Ralston has since continued to climb mountains with the use of a prosthetic arm.
7: Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson—the seventh president of the United States—had a few close calls with death, which he narrowly escaped on multiple occasions. Jackson became a courier of the colonial army during the American Revolution at just 13 years old. He & his brother Robert, however, were captured by British troops & were treated very harshly by their captors. Andrew was reportedly slashed with a sword by a British officer after refusing to clean his boots & Robert died after both boys contracted smallpox. Additionally, Andrew’s other brother, Hugh Jackson, died during the Battle of Stono Ferry while his mother died after contracting cholera while volunteering as a nurse. Thus the future president was orphaned at just 14 years old.
As a grown man, Jackson developed a proclivity for dueling. A man named Charles Dickinson insulted Jackson’s wife in 1806 & called the man a coward for backing out on a horse racing bet. So Jackson challenged Dickinson to a duel, which was a common method for settling disputes in the 19th century south. Dickinson shot Jackson in the chest, where the bullet broke two of his ribs & was lodged just two inches away from his heart. Jackson retaliated with two shots, the second of which killed his opponent. He survived the encountered but the bullet fragments would cause chronic pain & debilitation for the rest of his life.
Then after becoming president, Andrew Jackson survived an assassination attempt in 1835 from a man named Richard Lawrence. While visiting Capitol hill, Jackson was approached by Lawrence, who pulled out a gun & attempted to shoot him. Although the gun misfired, Lawrence pulled out a second gun, which also misfired. Jackson then attacked Lawrence & began beating him with his walking stick until police intervened. Experts tested the guns again years later. This time, they worked flawlessly. It is still unclear to this day why the weapon did not work during the botched assassination attempt. It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1845 that Andrew Jackson finally died.
6: Jim Thompson
Floyd James Thompson, also known as Jim Thompson, holds the distinction for being the longest American prisoner of war after being held in a Vietnamese prison camp for nine years. Thompson was captured in 1964 when his plane was shot down near the North & South Vietnamese border. Despite surviving the crash & its accompanying wounds, he was held until March, 1973.
During the crash, Thompson broke his back, suffered severe burns, & was shot in the face. He was found & captured by the Vietcong soon afterwards. At the hands of his captors, Thompson faced harsh treatment including torture, starvation, & isolation. He spent time crammed inside a wooden cage unable to stretch & was often beat by the Vietcong. He was sometimes interrogated & his captors tried coercing him into signing a statement saying he was treated well. But his lack of cooperation led to more than four years in solitary confinement.
Thompson’s luck finally changed in March, 1973 during Operation Homecoming. During this operation, diplomats arranged for the release of nearly 600 U.S. prisoners of war, including Jim Thompson. He was promoted to Colonel upon his return & remained in active duty for many years to come. Among the honors he received were the Distinguished Medal of Service, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, & the Prisoner of War Medal.
5: Richard Blass
Richard Blass earned the nickname “Le Chat” (French for “The Cat”) for his ability to elude death. The mafia put out several hits on him in 1968 and 1969, all of which failed. He survived three assassination attempts in total.
Blass himself was a well known gangster in Canada who developed a disliking for the Italian mafia & the influence they had in his hometown of Montreal. After working for Canada’s crime syndicate The West End Gang, he began fighting with members of the Italian mafia. He even attempted to kill prominent mafia member Frank Cotroni but was sabotaged by a New York City police officer that arrested Blass & his accomplice. Nevertheless, the two managed to escape police custody.
Blass and his gang members became increasingly violent after the incident. They set about murdering anyone with connections to the mafia, including a loan shark named Francesco Grado. This prompted the mafia to put a hit out on Blass. On August 24th, 1968, Blass was in a bar when mafia hitmen entered & opened fire. He escaped unharmed. But it was only a few weeks later when he found himself facing mob gunfire yet again while in a hotel room. In October of that same year, he & an associate were ambushed by mafia hitmen & he was shot in the back & head. He managed to escape the attack, however, & was able to get to a hospital to be treated.
By January of 1969, “Le Chat” was arrested after a botched bank robbery & sentenced to 40 years in prison. But he managed to escape again after stealing the van that was transporting him to court. He was soon rearrested but escaped five years later in 1974 after a friend snuck weapons to him during a visit. The gangster shot his way out of prison & into freedom. He then tracked down the men who testified against him after the bank robbery & murdered them in a bar. He & another man also went on to kill all 13 witnesses to the murders. Police then launched a massive manhunt for Blass & found him hiding in a hotel. They broke in & shot Blass the moment he approached them. He was reportedly shot 27 times before ultimately dying.
4: Pierre Cota
French engineer Pierre Cota survived both a plane crash & a car crash on the exact same day! It occurred on January 20th, 1992 while Cota was driving to the airport in Lyon, France, in order to catch a flight to Strasbourg for a business meeting later that day. But he crashed his car on the way, causing a multi-car pileup and totaling his car in the process. He was not hurt at all during the accident, though he did miss his flight.
The Frenchman was still able to make it to the airport in order to catch another flight to Strasbourg. But on the way there, the plane crashed into the side of a mountain due to a malfunction with the plane’s instruments. 87 people on board died, while only nine people survived. Cota was one of the lucky few. He even managed to save a young boy’s life in the process when he pulled the youngster out of the fiery plane.
Despite his involvement in both a plane & car crash on the same day, Cota sustained only a nosebleed. Surprisingly, he even made it to his business meeting on time.
3: Ernest Hemingway
Known for famous works such as A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea among others as well as winning a Pulitzer Prize & the Nobel Prize in Literature, Ernest Hemingway also cheated death on multiple occasions. The first such incident occurred on July 8th, 1918 while working as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross during the First World War. At just 18 years old, he was wounded by mortar fire while bringing supplies to soldiers on the front line. Hemingway sustained injuries to his legs but continued to help Italian soldiers to safety before being sent to the hospital, where he spent six months recuperating.
According to Time magazine, he once again survived a brush with death in 1935 while hunting sharks from his wooden fishing boat. The author accidentally shot himself in the calves during an attempt to catch a shark.
The magazine then details another near-death experience occurring nine years later in 1954. While on an African Safari, Hemingway’s plane crashed during an emergency landing. The plane’s engine failed & the pilot had two options: land the plane in a sandpit where no less than six crocodiles were waiting, or land it in a scrub populated by elephants. The pilot chose the scrub & Hemingway, his wife, & the pilot survived the crash & the ensuing night in the jungle surrounded by elephants.
The very next day, both the writer & his wife boarded another plane, which also crashed. This time the plane caught fire. While both Hemingway & his wife sustained injuries, they managed to survive again. It wasn’t until he took his own life in 1961 that death no longer eluded him.
2: Peng Shuilin
Known as the “Half Man,” Peng Shuilin was struck by a freight truck in 1995 just outside of Shenzhen, China. The truck sliced his body in half & he was discovered in two separate pieces just after the accident. But to many people’s surprise, he was still alive.
Medics realized they would not be able to save his lower torso but could still close up his upper half with a series of operations. In order to protect his organs from outside exposure & minimize the damaging effects of the outside world, skin was grafted from his head to the underside of his upper torso.
But for months after the procedures, survival looked unlikely as Mr. Shuilin was still too weak to contain his organs & was required to spend his time lying in a horizontal position. He was eventually able to make a full recovery & has even built up his arm strength, allowing him to be mobile once again. His mobility is also due to the creation of artificial bionic legs specially fitted for his torso. Along with the help of doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Center, Shuilin has learned to properly use these legs to not only walk again, but also to perform the same everyday activities as most normal-bodied human beings.
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1: Frane Selak
Frane Selak has been nicknamed “The World’s Luckiest Man” due to the fact that he escaped death on seven different occasions. He also won the lottery in 2003, netting just over a million dollars.
Selak’s first near-death experience took place in January, 1963 while he was working as a music teacher in Croatia. He was riding a train through a canyon when suddenly, it veered off its tracks. The train crashed into a river & killed 17 passengers. Selak contracted hypothermia but survived with a broken arm as a result.
It was also in that same year that he was reportedly blown out of a moving plane after a door malfunctioned. He landed on a haystack which cushioned his fall and in the process, saved his life. The plane, however, crashed due to the mishap & resulted in the death of 19 passengers that were onboard.
He survived another dangerous encounter in 1966 while riding a bus, which ran off the road & into a river. Many of the passengers onboard drowned but Selak swam to safety with only minor injuries. Then just two years later in 1968, he accidentally shot himself in one of his testicles while teaching his son how to shoot a gun. He did survive the incident but also needed to have a testicle removed upon arrival at the hospital.
“The World’s Luckiest Man” also survived two car accidents in the early 1970s. The first was in 1970 when his car caught fire while he was driving along. For the most part, he escaped from the car unharmed. His car caught fire again three years later due to a malfunctioning fuel pump. Flames shot through the air vents, singing his hair. But other than that, he claims to have been unscathed.
While he seemed to avoid trouble in the 1980s, he had two final brushes with death in the mid 90s. As he was walking down a street in Zagreb in 1995, a bus running amuck slammed into him, but he was not seriously injured. He was then driving down a narrow mountainside road a year later when a large truck headed straight in his direction. Selak swerved into a guardrail to avoid collision but as legend has it, he was thrown out of the car from not wearing a seatbelt. He managed to grab onto a tree branch and watched as his car tumbled down the side of the mountain.
Frane Selak won over $1 million in the lottery in 2003. After buying a new house & a boat, he gave the rest of his winnings away to friends & family, opting for a quiet life instead.