Many people have a fear of meeting an untimely death. However, these people refused to accept their fate. They fought to save their own lives. These are stories of people who stared death in the face and won. They beat the odds and survived in the worst circumstances.
Table of Contents
- A Beam of Good Luck
- Not Just Another Day On the Job
- Between a Rock and a Hard Place
- Sailing Around the World
- 15 Years Old and Fighting For Life
- Eating the Dead to Stay Alive
- A Flight to Forget
- A Man Left Behind
- Lightning Strikes Mid Flight
- 438 Days Lost At Sea
- Stuck in a Volcano
- The Runaway Missing For Too Long
- Across Antarctica On Foot
- Stuck on an Inflatable Raft
- Separated From Humanity
- Attacked by a Bear and Left For Dead
- Confused and Lost in the Desert
- Down the Wrong Road
- Buried Alive for 60 Days
- A Team Divided
- No Man Left Behind
- Trapped Underwater
- Buried Under a Building
- Lost in the Sierra Nevadas
- Carried by a Wave
- Left For Dead in a Sewer
- Sunk by Whales
- An Accident Off the Cliff
- Shot and Left For Dead
- A Deadly Snake Bite
- Carrying His Own Leg
- Left Alone on a Deserted Island
- Apollo 13
- On the Run From Nazis
- The Robertson Family and Their Unplanned Trip
- Gremlin Special and the Unlikely Survivors
- An Attempted Victim of Richard Ramirez
- Stranded on Top of a Mountain
- Kidnapped by Serial Killers
- Antarctic Exploration Gone Wrong
- Lost in the Desert
- Ted Bundy’s Surviving Victim
- What Speck Left Behind
- The Butlers and Their Sunken Boat
- And Then There Were Two
- Frozen Alive
- The Mount Everest Disaster
- Surviving A Plane Crash and a Mountain Hike at 11 Years Old
- The Deadly Climb Down
- Thrown From a Twister
A Beam of Good Luck
In 1978, Anatoli Bugorski, a researcher working at the Institute for High Energy Physics, was looking at a piece of equipment that was malfunctioning. It was a fairly routine procedure that ended horribly. A proton beam struck his head. The beam went through the back of his head and came out his nose. He states he felt no pain, only saw a very bright light.
His face swelled up and he was rushed to the hospital. No one expected him to survive. Surprisingly, he lived. He wasn’t left unharmed though. He has hearing loss in his left ear and a paralyzed face just on the left side. Anatoli also suffers from the occasional seizure. These are fairly minor considering he should have died from the accident.
Not Just Another Day On the Job
In Cleburne, Texas, switchman Truman Duncan, a father of three, came to work expecting just another day of refurbishing and fixing trains. There was nothing unusual about the day at first when tragedy struck. It was June in 2006 when a slight mistake almost took Truman’s life. He fell and landed between moving railroad freight cars. He got up and the car hit him and trapped him under the wheels.
The wheels not only cut off his legs but sliced through the pelvis bone. Miraculously, Truman stayed conscious and he took his phone from his belt. He called 911 and waited for help to get there. It isn’t known how he survived. It is possible the weight of the car prevented him from bleeding out. Truman lost his legs, pelvis, and a kidney.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Aron Ralston went hiking in Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon in late April of 2003. While working his way through a narrow sandstone slot, an 800-pound bounder dislodged and pinned Aron’s arm. He was pinned by the boulder for five days. He was now out of all the food and water he had brought with him. Aron knew he had to get out of there soon. Seeing no other option, he cut off his own arm with a multitool. He lost a fourth of his blood in the process. He then hiked out of the canyon, climbed down a 65-foot cliff, and hiked six miles until he ran into a family. They gave him food and water until help arrived. He survived the ordeal and went on to live a full life missing half an arm.
Source: All That’s Interesting
Sailing Around the World
In 2010, Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old girl, wanted to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. On her second attempt on her 40 foot yacht, the mast snapped. She was 2000 miles from land and in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She set off two emergency signals. Her boat was still afloat but she was unable to sail it. Much of her equipment was destroyed and so was her boat. Two days later, she was rescued by two fishermen. Recently, in 2019, her yacht was discovered. Abby is now 25 years old, married with four children.
Source: The Guardian
15 Years Old and Fighting For Life
In September of 1978, Mary Vincent was 15 years old. She was hitchhiking to get to her grandpa’s house in California. A blue van pulled up and offered her a ride. Even though she was around other hitchhikers, the man claimed he could only take her. She was tired and even though alarm bells rang, she just wanted to get off her feet. The man was Lawrence Singleton.
As the drive went on, Mary got tired and fell asleep. When she woke, she realized they were in Nevada, not California. Mary panicked but Lawrence assured her it was an honest mistake. On the next stop, Lawrence attacked. He beat and raped her. He threw her outside the van and proceeded to cut off both her arms with a hatchet. He put her, then unconscious and naked, into a concrete pipe down and embankment.
She woke up and was able to climb up to the road with her arms raised up to slow the bleeding. She flagged down a car and was rushed to the hospital. She survived and went on to testify against Lawrence Singleton. Mary now lives her life with prosthetics.
Eating the Dead to Stay Alive
Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa were two of 45 passengers who got on the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 on Friday the 13th in October of 1972. They were on the Uruguayan rugby team that was going to play a match in Chile. Visibility was poor on the flight and the plane crashed into a mountain peak in the Andes. The crash killed many of the passengers but the rest were stranded. They were at high altitude so it was cold and they were dehydrated.
As the days went on with no food, they had no choice but to eat the dead passengers. After 60 days, Nando and Roberto got tired of waiting for help. They started climbing down the mountain and after 10 days found help. Rescuers went to the site of the plane crash. Only 16 of the 45 passengers survived. They don’t feel guilty for resorting to cannibalism. They knew they did what they had to do.
Source: All That’s Interesting
A Flight to Forget
On January 26, 1972, Vesna Vulovic, a flight attendant, was pleased with the schedule mix up with another attendant. She had wanted to see Denmark and stay at the Sheraton Hotel and this was her chance. However, this flight wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. There was a bomb on this plane placed there by a terrorist group, Ustashe. The bomb went off over the city of Srbska-Kamenice, tearing apart the plane at 33,330 feet above the ground.
The passengers fell for three minutes. A German man found the wreckage. All the passengers were dead except for Vesna. As a medic in World War II, he did what he could to help her until help arrived. She had a broken skull, three crushed vertebrae, and two broken legs. She received medical treatment and woke up three days later, not remembering anything. She made an almost complete recovery. She holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute.
Source: Damn Interesting
A Man Left Behind
In 1985, two climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, were climbing the Siula Grande Mountain. Joe had fallen and broken his leg near the summit. Simon was left with the task of getting his severely injured partner down the mountain. Simon had been lowering him 300 feet at a time when suddenly Joe started to slip. Simon felt the rope go taut and knew Joe had gone over the drop. Simon tried to hear his friend but heard nothing.
The snow he was sitting on began to give. He knew he had to get out of there or he would kill both of them. He had no choice but to cut the rope. Simon thought he had surely just killed his friend and went to go back to the campsite. However, Joe had landed on a ledge and was able to crawl to safety. Three days later, Joe arrived at the camp. He was dehydrated and starving. Joe had lost 42 pounds in three days. Simon nursed him back to health.
Lightning Strikes Mid Flight
Juliane Koepcke was one of 93 passengers on the LANSA Flight 508 on December 24, 1971. During the flight, the airplane was hit by lightning and exploded mid-flight. Juliane was only 17 years old at the time. She fell thousands of feet while still strapped to her seat. Luckily, the jungle canopy caught her and cushioned her fall. She survived the fall. She had a broken collarbone, a cut on her arm and a swollen eye.
Juliane had no training, but she listened to the piece of advice her parents told her. You find people when you follow the water. She went out on her own and found a small stream. She walked along with it the way the water was flowing. She followed it for nine days. She found shelter and waited there until two loggers found her. She was the sole survivor of the crash.
438 Days Lost At Sea
In January of 2014, Jose Salvador Alvarenga was discovered by coconut farmers on the shore of Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Jose, a fisherman, said he had been drifting in the Pacific Ocean for 13 months. He had been with his fishing partner, Ezequiel Cordoba, who had died six days into the unexpected trip. He had only planned on being on the water for 30 hours so he had limited supplies. He had a 7-meter boat that had been blown off course during a five-day storm. Jose’s equipment was damaged as a result. He survived by eating birds, turtles, and fish and drinking his own urine and rainwater.
Source: The Vintage News
Stuck in a Volcano
In 1992, Michael Benson was shooting aerial footage for a movie in Hawaii with his colleague, Chris Duddy. Their helicopter wrecked over Kilauea, an active volcano. The pilot, Craig Hosking, fell inside the volcano crater, just missing the lava. Hosking and Duddy were able to get to safety just the next day. However, rescuers couldn’t find Benson through the noxious clouds of fumes. Benson was stuck inside the crater listening to the lava below. Two sleepless days passed and he was finally able to reach the rescue net that was dropped down.
Source: The New York Times
The Runaway Missing For Too Long
In December of 2012, Matthew Allen decided to run away from home. Like a typical teenager, he didn’t like the restrictions put on him by his parents. Unfortunately, he didn’t pick the best time to be rebellious. No one could find him. The 18-year-old boy was missing for nine weeks. He was discovered by hikers in the Australian Outback. He was unable to stand and was extremely disoriented. He had lost half his body weight and was living off creek water. He decided to run away during a record-breaking heatwave. He was lucky to have lived so long.
Across Antarctica On Foot
Right before the beginning of the First World War, Sir Ernest Shackleton went out with a crew to try to get across Antarctica on foot. However, before they got there, their ship got stuck on ice in the Weddell Sea. There were 27 people on board with no way of communicating for help. They were stuck there for almost two years. The ice slowly began to destroy the ship and the crew had to go out onto the frozen sea.
They worked their way on built sledges and got to Elephant Island, a deserted spot of land. Most people had assumed the crew had all been killed by this point. They knew rescue probably wasn’t going to happen. Sir Ernest Shackleton made the decision to take a lifeboat across the sea 800 miles to South Georgia Island. He landed on the opposite side of the island and had to work his way over the mountains to get to the whaling station there. He survived and got help for the rest of his crew.
Stuck on an Inflatable Raft
On January 29, 1982, Steven Callahan went out sailing from the Canary Islands. He was headed for the Caribbean. A few days later, the ship was sunk by a storm and Steven was stranded on an inflatable raft in the Atlantic. He had only a t-shirt, a little bit of food, some gear, and two gallons of water. For 76 days, he went of 1800 miles of ocean before he was rescued in the Bahamas.
Source: Learning History
Separated From Humanity
The Lykov family fled to escape religious persecution into the Siberian wilderness in 1936. They only took some seeds and a few possessions. The family consisted of Karp and Akulina Lykov and their two children who were nine and two at the time. They built huts until they reached the Mongolian border. During this time, they had two more kids who had never seen anyone outside of the small family. They had survived by hunting and farming. They made hemp for fiber and for their clothes. In the winters, they all nearly starved and rationed their food. One winter, the mother lost her life. The family was discovered in 1978 after living for five decades in the wilderness.
Attacked by a Bear and Left For Dead
In August 1823, Hugh Glass was led by Andrew Henry on a fur trapping expedition. Hugh surprised a grizzly bear with her two cubs. She attacked and he had extensive injuries. However, Hugh did more damage, killing the bear with the help of his trapping team. Andrew Henry did not believe he would survive his injuries. He asked two others, Bridger and Fitzgerald, to stay with him until he died. The two told Andrew that Hugh had died, but he was still alive.
Hugh Glass woke up to see that everyone had left him. He had no weapons or equipment. He was mutilated to his bones in some areas and had a severely broken leg. He set his leg and wrapped himself in the bear hide they had left. He ate berries and roots to survive. He traveled for six weeks and made a raft to float down the river. Natives helped him cover his wounds by sewing a bear hid to his back. Hugh Glass finally reached Fort Kiow. He went to search for Fitzgerald and Bridger. He spared Bridger due to his young age and spared Fitzgerald because he had joined the U.S. Army. If he killed a soldier, he would be sentenced to death.
Confused and Lost in the Desert
Ricky Megee found himself in a remote area of Australia. He didn’t remember much of how he got there but thought he had been drugged by a hitchhiker. He only remembered breaking down on the Buntine Highway. Dingos scratching him woke him up. For 71 days, he lived on insects, snakes, lizards, and frogs. He got his water from a dam. He lost over 100 pounds during this time before he was discovered by ranchers in April of 2006.
Source: The Guardian
Down the Wrong Road
On March 31, 2016, Ann was reported missing by her family in Tucson, Arizona. She was 72 years old. She had taken some wrong turns and found herself on a remote road, out of gas. Her cell phone was out of range. The first night, she stayed in her car with extra clothing for warmth. She had a few snacks and water with her. The next day, she went to look for help. She built a fire every night and drank pond water and ate edible plants.
She even roasted and ate a turtle. She learned these skills through her survival classes and research on the topic of desert survival. She was discovered when she made a large sign that read “help” out of sticks and rocks. This was seen on the ninth day she was out there. She was flown to a hospital and soon released. Her dog, Queenie, was with her the whole time and survived the ordeal as well.
Buried Alive for 60 Days
In February of 2012, two snowmobilers came across a car in Sweden’s icy northeast. After digging the car out, they found a man in the backseat. Peter Skyllberg had been buried there for 60 days living off the snow. Many people didn’t believe this story, however, researchers backed him. They said it was possible his body went into hibernation while he was in the car.
Source: The Telegraph
A Team Divided
In 1981, Yossi and three of his friends went out to explore the Tuichi River, located in the Bolivian Amazon. However, they realized they were extremely unprepared for the trip when they got lost. They divided into pairs. Yossi and one of his friends went down the river. The other pair was never seen again. However, Yossi’s raft hit a rock and he was split from his friend. He wandered for 19 days in the wilderness. His friend, Kevin, was found. Surprisingly, Yossi was still alive when he was found.
No Man Left Behind
In 2006, Lincoln reached the top of Mount Everest. However, he soon got severe altitude sickness. He lost signs of life and his guides tried to resuscitate him for over two hours. They had to abandon him and come get his body the next day. 12 hours later, a group climbing the mountain was surprised to find him sitting on the ridge, very much alive. He was weak and frostbitten but amazingly, he survived.
In 2013, Harrison Okene was taking a bathroom break when his boat capsized and very quickly sank. He was off the coast of Nigeria, stuck underwater. He crouched a pocket of air and survived for three days. Rescue divers got there expecting to pull dead bodies out. They were terrified when a hand grabbed one of them. Harrison was still alive having survived the freezing water and low oxygen supply by stacking mattresses as the water rose. He was the only survivor of the 12 people on board.
Source: The Guardian
Buried Under a Building
In 2013, Reshma Begum was 19 years old working as a seamstress near Dhaka in the Rana Plaza building. It collapsed and left 1,100 workers dead. The search for survivors was ending when rescuers hear Reshma banging in the ruins. She had been buried for 17 days. She found some food and a little water to keep herself alive. The young mom was brought to safety and reunited with her family.
Source: The Guardian
Lost in the Sierra Nevadas
In March of 2003, Eric LeMarque was snowboarding in the Sierra Nevada mountains. He was a former Olympic hockey player and he veered off the course and got lost. He wasn’t planning on being out there that long so he didn’t bring any supplies. He only had an MP3 player. The temperatures were freezing which was made worse when he fell into the rushing water. He was out there for 7 days before he was found. Because of frostbite and tissue damage, he lost much of his legs. They had to be amputated.
Carried by a Wave
Howard Ulrich was fishing in the Lituya Bay in 1958 with his son. Suddenly, a wall of water came towards them caused by an earthquake. The wave was recorded at 1,720 feet. The boat they were in was very quickly swept up and carried 100 miles per hour through the bay. Surprisingly, the wave carried them up over trees and placed them back down onto the bay.
Left For Dead in a Sewer
It was February 23, 2002, when Maria Viricheva, who was 19 and pregnant at the time, saw Alexander Pichushkin at the gas station. She knew him through her boyfriend. Maria had just gotten into a fight with her boyfriend and agreed to go with him to a nearby park. When there, he threw her into a manhole and began to beat her. She then fell 20 feet into a sewer pipe and was pulled by the current.
However, she got up the ladder. She couldn’t get the manhole cover off though. A woman walking by heard her and freed her with two security guards helping. Both Maria and her baby lived. The police didn’t believe her story. They wanted her to admit she had fallen in accidentally. Pichushkin was a serial killer who wasn’t done with murdering. He killed over 49 people. Many lives could have been saved if the police had believed Maria that day.
Sunk by Whales
On November 20, 1820, Owen Chase became lost at sea when his ship was rammed by a sperm whale. They are extremely strong creatures that don’t like their space being invaded. The 21 sailors were on three small boats with very little food or water. They ended up resorting to cannibalism and drinking their own urine. They made it to an island with few resources. Only 8 of the 21 sailors survived. They were rescued after 93 days. Some of the sailors even decided to stay and live on the island.
An Accident Off the Cliff
In July of 2018, Angela was driving down the highway towards Southern California when she swerved her vehicle to miss a small animal. She missed the animal but suffered for the sudden movement. Her SUV flew off the road and down 200 feet. Angela suffered a brain hemorrhage, broken ribs and collarbone, broken blood vessels in her eyes and a collapsed lung.
But she survived. She woke up to water hitting her. She broke her window with a multitool and swam to the beach nearby. She then passed out. She walked for days. No one could see or hear her. Hikers soon found her vehicle and then found Angela nearby. They called for help and rescuers came and took her to the hospital. She had been hurt and lost for seven days.
Source: The Washington Post
Shot and Left For Dead
In Los Angeles in 1989, Enietra Washington, 30 years old, was walking to a friend’s house when Lonnie Franklin, Jr. offered her a ride. Not wanting to seem rude, she accepted. Without warning, Lonnie shot her in the chest. She survived and tried to run. He told her he would do it again if she tried. He raped her and even took a picture of her bleeding. Lonnie then pushed her out of the car and drove away. She was barely conscious at this time but she managed to get to a friend’s house and then got medical attention. Lonnie wasn’t caught until 20 years later with the help of familial DNA. He had murdered 10 people. Enietra testified at his trial and helped convict him.
Source: LA Times
A Deadly Snake Bite
In the year of 1998, Danie was a research student working in South Africa studying white rhinos. One day, he went out on his own and failed to tell anyone where he went. He regretted this decision when he got bitten by a black mamba. He knew it would be deadly if he didn’t do something quick. The venom was very quickly spreading. He made it back to his car and drove 100 miles per hour until he saw another car. He made it to the hospital two hours after being bitten. After getting the needed treatment, he made a slow recovery.
Source: Kruger Park
Carrying His Own Leg
On September 17, 2019, Niel Parker was discovered by a rescue helicopter. Neil is an experienced hiker from Australia who spent two days crawling looking for help after falling down a waterfall. He had to carry his broken leg on Mount Nebo, which is northwest of Brisbane. He splinted the leg which was shattered with his hiking sticks.
He stated, “I had to carry my leg, and it was very heavy. I had a bandage on my elbows so I could use my elbow and scrambling, lifting, inch by inch.” He was in so much pain. He barely slept at all during the two days. He drank water from the creek and ate some food he brought with him. A rescue helicopter saw him and tied him to a stretcher. From there, he received medical treatment for his injuries.
Left Alone on a Deserted Island
Ada Blackjack was an Alaska native that was hired by Canadians to travel and explore the Wrangel Islands. They wanted to claim them for Canada. Ada was the cook and seamstress of the expedition. On September 16, 1921, five people were left on the island. Three of the members left when the rations got low. Blackjack and the other sick member stayed behind. The other three never returned and the person left with her died. She was alone on the island. She lived for two years until she was rescued. Instead of being considered a hero, she was criticized for not saving her crewmate’s life. She died in poverty at an old age. It wasn’t until later that she was recognized for her sacrifice.
Source: Atlas Obscura
As of today, there hasn’t been anyone in space that has gone as far as the crew of Apollo 13. They went 248,655 miles from Earth before they came back for an incredible landing. However, the original destination was the moon. They never made it there. Fred Hayse, Jim Lovell, and Jack Swigert almost died due to bad wiring in an oxygen tank which blew out part of the spacecraft. They used the lunar module and stretched the food they had left.
They had about a day and a half worth of food, but they needed to make it last for 4 days. They had to slingshot back to Earth. However, the lunar module wasn’t built to survive re-entry into the atmosphere. They had to get back inside the damaged spacecraft to make it back to Earth. They made it. While they were severely dehydrated, they were all safe. Their landing was a miracle.
On the Run From Nazis
In March of 1943, four Norwegian commandoes, which included Jan Baalsrug, set sail for Nazi-occupied Norway from England. They went to help and supply the Norwegian resistance. However, they were betrayed just after they landed which resulted in them being ambushed by Nazis. Jan Baalsrud was the only survivor. He was very poorly clothed and had a gunshot wound on his foot. He was also still being pursued by Nazis. Jan then survived an avalanche and had frostbite along with snow blindness. He made it to an arctic village, nearing death. The locals helped him and led him to home in Sweden. He wrote a book about his escape in his book, We Die Alone.
The Robertson Family and Their Unplanned Trip
On January 27, 1971, Dougal Robertson, a British dairy farmer, led his family on a boat trip that his son called “university of life.” They set out on a boat called the Lucette. Dougal had served in the British merchant navy but he hadn’t prepared much for the trip. He wanted his family to see the world. They were at sea for 17 months and did pretty well. They went from port to port seeing different areas of the world. On June 15, 1972, the family was off the coast of the Galapagos Islands when they came across a group of killer whales.
The whales immediately attacked their boat and it was severely damaged. All they had to use was a lifeboat and 6 days worth of food. They drank rainwater, hunted turtles, and hoped the current would push them towards the Americas. However, the raft wasn’t usable after only 16 days. They fled to a dinghy, which was way too small for them. They held on until Japanese fisherman discovered them on July 23, 1972. They had been lost for 38 days. Their family vacation lasted much longer than they had planned.
Gremlin Special and the Unlikely Survivors
On May 13, 1945, the Gremlin Special, a U.S. Army Air Force C-47, crashed into the side of a mountain. Of the 24 officers on board, only 3 survived. Lt. John McCollum had little to no injuries. However, Sgt. Kenneth Decker and WAC Cpl. Margaret Hastings sustained severe injuries. In addition, they were now in a part of the world that had been almost untouched by the outside world. The natives in what was then Dutch New Guinea were cannibals. Luckily for the three survivors, they mainly only ate people from their enemy tribe. The natives nursed the injuries survivors back to health. After spending 45 days in the jungle, they were rescued and escaped the island.
An Attempted Victim of Richard Ramirez
Very early on July 5, 1985, in Sierra Madre, California, Richard Ramirez broke into the home of Whitney Bennett’s family. She was 16 years old, living with her parents. He entered her bedroom and attacked the teen. She was beaten and strangled. She miraculously survived. When she woke, she yelled for her parents and got medical care. Richard Ramirez was the infamous “Night Stalker” who brutally murdered many around the Los Angeles and San Francisco area. He left a bloody footprint in Whitney’s bedroom that helped the law enforcement link him to other crimes. Ramirez was captured a month later and Whitney testified against the man who tried to kill her. He was sentenced to death.
Source: LA Times
Stranded on Top of a Mountain
Mark Inglis and Phil Doole went up to the highest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki Mt. Cook, in 1982. They were up on the slopes when a horrible blizzard hit. To survive, they built themselves an ice cave and waited for the storm out. However, they never imagined it would be 13 days before help arrived. They rationed the little food and water they had. The cave was very small and the combination of cold and little room cause the circulation to be lost in their legs. They later had to be amputated.
Neither of the men let that get to them though. They kept climbing and even went back to Mt. Cook. In 2006, Inglis was the first amputee to climb to the top of Mount Everest. However, he lost more of his legs and 5 fingertips due to the climb.
Kidnapped by Serial Killers
On November 9, 1986, David and Catherine Birnie kidnapped 17-year-old Kate Moir. They had already kidnapped and murdered 4 other women ages 15 to 31. Kate was taken to their home located in Willagee, Australia. David raped Kate as his wife watched and took notes. Kate was left home alone with Catherine the next day. Catherine didn’t restrain Kate and a visitor came to visit the Birnie’s home.
Kate got the window open in the bedroom they had her in. She knocked on the neighbor’s house only to realize they weren’t home. She kept running until she found a man outside a store. He took her to the police station where she told her story. Because she escaped, the Birnies were convicted of multiple counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. David committed suicide in prison. Catherine still remains there today. Kate now advocates for victims’ rights.
Antarctic Exploration Gone Wrong
In December 1912, Douglas Mawson, an Australian scientist, went to explore Antarctica with a team. He, along with his colleagues Xavier Mertz and Belgrave Ninnis, came back to base after being there for a few days. Ninnis fell down into a crevasse. He had their supplies and their dogs. They were 310 miles from home.
Mawson and Mertz now had to get back through the ice desert without any shelter and much less food than they needed. Mertz died from the cold along with exhaustion. Mawson was now left on his own. He had frostbite and conjunctivitis. Mawson then too fell into a crevasse and was left hanging. He somehow managed to pull himself up and survived the next 32 days.
When he got back to his hut, there were six men waiting for him. However, he was told he would have to stay there for 10 more months. The ship that was supposed to take him back had left hours earlier. They tried to call it back to no avail. They were there for another year before being picked up. The extra year didn’t go to waste. They spent it gathering more data on Antarctica. After a year, they got picked up and taken home with all the data they gathered.
Lost in the Desert
In 1994, Mauro Prosperi, an Italian policeman, got lost during the Marathon de Sables. The Marathon de Sables is a very dangerous six day-long marathons that go through the Moroccan Sahara. A sandstorm struck and spun him off track, 186 miles off track. He came across an abandoned mosque during this time and survived by drinking his own urine and the blood of bats.
He even tried to kill himself but his blood was thick from dehydration. He took this as a sign that he should try to live. He walked until he found an oasis. Mauro was then rescued by a nomadic family. This whole ordeal did not discourage him though. He went on to enter the race again, four years later. Mauro was not going to let his first race hold him back.
Ted Bundy’s Surviving Victim
In the fall of 1974, Carol DaRonch met Ted Bundy. She was at a mall in Utah and he approached her, pretending to be a cop. He told her that her car had been burglarized. He wanted her to come with him to see what was missing. Carol came with him and immediately felt unsettled. Nothing was missing. When she asked to see his badge, Bundy showed her an officer’s badge. She found him creepy, unlike many of his other victims who found him extremely charming.
She claims he seemed older than he actually was. But she thought he was a police officer so she got into his car. Bundy went on to handcuff her but didn’t do a great job. She was able to jump out of the vehicle and run. He then chased and attacked her. She was still able to get to an approaching car. After that, Bundy fled. When he was caught, she went on to testify against him. He only got a sentence of one to 15 years for her kidnapping and attempted murder.
What Speck Left Behind
Richard Speck broke into a townhouse in Chicago on July 14, 1966. The house was shared by several nursing students. He murdered each of the women in the home, except for Corazon Amurao. He hadn’t realized there was another person in the house. She survived by hiding under the bed. He took each of the other eight nurses into another room one by one. He killed each of them after raping them. He fled the crime scene after the eighth victim.
Speck was captured a few days later because a doctor recognized him from a sketch Corazon helped create. He was being treated for an attempted suicide. She went on to testify at his trial in April of 1967 and pointed directly at him when they asked who murdered her friends. She walked right up to him. He was convicted and sentenced to death. This sentence was later changed to life in prison without parole. However, he died of a heart attack in 1991 while in custody.
The Butlers and Their Sunken Boat
William Butler, 60, and his wife Simone, 52, were on their boat off the coast of Costa Rica when whales sank their boat. They were lost at sea for 66 days on a lifeboat. They had the instinct to grab fishing rods and their salt-water purifier as their boat was sinking. They lived off of fish and the water they purified. They were rescued by a Coast Guard ship. They were very weak and had both lost a lot of weight but they lived. They were 1,200 miles from Costa Rica off the coast of Golfito. During their misadventure, they were also attacked multiple times by sharks. They had to repair the punctures in their lifeboat so it didn’t sink. It is a miracle they survived.
Source: The New York Times
And Then There Were Two
In 1957, Tony Streather and John Emery along with two other men on the Oxford University’s team tried to summit Haramosh Peak in Pakistan. However, the adventure didn’t go quite as planned. By the end of the trip, they were the only two surviving members. They survived avalanches, exposure to the elements, and many falls. The other two members died during the attempt. One fell to his death. The other had severe frostbite which caused his death. Tony and John aren’t quite sure how they survived. Tony described “a being of some sort” providing him assistance along the way. John described a sort of out of body experience.
Source: The Guardian
Anna Elisabeth Johansson Bågenholm, a Swedish radiologist, was in a skiing accident in 1999. It resulted in her being trapped in a layer of ice in freezing water for 80 minutes. Her body temperature went down to 56.7 °F, the lowest temperature ever recorded in a human by accidental hypothermia. She was able to find a pocket of air underneath the ice to survive.
She was in the water for 40 minutes before she had a circulatory arrest. When she was discovered, only her feet and skis were above the ice. She didn’t have a pulse. They thought she was dead. They ran her blood through and warmed it. It took her 12 days to open her eyes and a year to fully move her body again because of the nerve damage. She had been extremely lucky to have even survived the ordeal. She almost didn’t.
The Mount Everest Disaster
In 1996 from May 10th to the 11th, there were nine deaths on Mount Everest. This was a shocking number even for the dangerous mountain in the course of a single day. There were 34 total people trying to get to the top that day, which many say is a huge factor in the number of deaths. The high traffic of people that day caused delays on other’s climbs. Exhaustion, hypoxia, hypothermia, and frostbite are a few of the things the hikers suffered from.
The storms reduced visibility and many hikers got lost and separated from their teams. Beck Weathers was on John Krakauer’s expedition and was discovered by a member of the team with bad frostbite and little to no movement. They left him for dead. However, he came to and caught up to the other survivors. They yet again discovered him unresponsive later and was almost left for dead again when Krakauer found him to be conscious. Weathers managed to get down the mountain. He lost his nose, a hand, and five fingers to frostbite, but he survived.
Source: LA Times
Surviving A Plane Crash and a Mountain Hike at 11 Years Old
On February 19, 1979, a plane carrying Norman Ollestad, his son, Norman Ollestad Jr., and his girlfriend, Sandra Cressman, crashed into Big Bear Mountain due to an unexpected blizzard. Norman Ollestad and the pilot were instantly killed, leaving Sandra and his 11-year-old son Norman on their own. Norman was fairly uninjured. Sandra, however, had a dislocated shoulder and a very badly injured head.
The helicopters sent to rescue them had missed them and they were alone. They had to climb down. They didn’t plan on being out long so they didn’t even have gloves. Norman had to drag/carry Sandra down the mountain. However, Sanda lost her grip and fell. He later stated that she couldn’t move or talk. He had to leave her behind. She was later found dead. After nine hours, he came across home and the people inside called for help. He survived with minor injuries. He went on to write a book about his miraculous survival.
Source: The New York Times
The Deadly Climb Down
In 1953, a team of mountaineers tried to get to the top of K2 in Pakistan. However, this wasn’t as easy as they had expected. It didn’t go exactly as planned. The team was facing a series of challenges. One of the team members, Art Gilkey collapsed. The rest of the team led by Charles Houston decided to descend the mountain in extremely dangerous conditions.
However, the group fell down a sheet of ice and almost died. Pete Schoening managed to place an ice ax and stopped the fall of all six men. Unfortunately, Gilkey was lost in an avalanche. The rest of the team miraculously made it safely down the mountain. Houston abandoned mountain climbing after the incident. He used his knowledge to work on research into altitude sickness.
Thrown From a Twister
In 2006, Matt Suter, 19 years old, was in his grandma’s trailer home when the weather started looking not so great. He tried to close the living room window when the weather got much worse. The noise was extremely bad. Furniture began to fly around the house, hitting Matt. The storm was actually a twister. Matt was sucked from the trailer and through a collapsing wall. This should have killed him instantly. Shockingly, he survived. He had flown about four football fields away from where the trailer was. He had literally been sucked into the twister and thrown out. He had only minor bruises and cuts. It was an almost unbelievable survival.