Home Skills & Knowledge Camping, Hiking & Outdoors 9 Mind Blowing Near Death Wilderness Survival Stories

9 Mind Blowing Near Death Wilderness Survival Stories

Accidents seem as one of the most spontaneous things that exist. No one can tell when or where it will happen, and how strong it will affect the lives of those who got involved. As such, people do preparations to avoid the worst thing nature, bad decisions, and timing can offer. However, you cannot avoid every mishap and you need to deal with whatever challenge it comes with.

Some calamities seem very impossible to get out of alive. Surprisingly, some people managed to escape gruesome endings and lived to tell their insane and near death stories of survival. Whether it’s of sheer luck, great survivalist skills, or determination to live, these guys had that refreshing experience to see the beauty of the world the second time around.

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  1. Frane Selak: The World's Luckiest Unluckiest Man
     A. Seven Stories Of Survival
  2. Anatoli Bugorski: Half Forever Young
     A. The Side Effects Of Particle Accelerator Beam
  3. Roy Sullivan: Mr. Lightning
     A. Early Lightning Encounters
     B. Running Away From Lightning
     C. Death
  4. Joe Simpson: Fell From A Cliff
     A. Touching The Void
  5. Truman Duncan: Halved by a Train
  6. Aron Ralston: 127 Hours
     A. Self Amputation And Rescue
  7. Robert Evans: Hit Twice in Day
  8. Mauro Prosperi: The Sahara Nightmare
     A. Surviving The Desert
  9. Harrison Okene: The Man Who Lived Underwater
     A. How Did Okene Survive?

#1 – Frane Selak: The World’s Luckiest Unluckiest Man

Image: Express.co.uk

Some say luck favors your side when you survive a deadly accident. But will you still call it luck if you met with more mischances that can take your life away? It seems very confusing, especially for the journalists who dubbed the multiple survivor Frane Selak as the world’s luckiest unluckiest man.

Seven Stories Of Survival

Croatian music teacher Frane Selak started to deal with death in January 1962 while riding a train to Dubrovnik. The train flipped off and crashed in an icy cold river. Luckily, someone pulled Selak’s arm which brought him back to safety while seventeen others drowned and died.

After a year, Selak took his first ever plane to fly from Zagreb to Rijeka when another unforeseen incident happened. A door from the cockpit blew off and he got blown off from the plane. This freak accident killed 19 people but the lucky Selak landed on a haystack. He later woke up days later in the hospital to some minor injuries.

The third death encounter happened in 1970. Selak is driving his car when it caught fire all of a sudden. Fortunately, he quickly jumped off  before the fire reached his car’s fuel tank. After three years, his car caught fire again and this time, it got him. He lost most of his hair as the fire went through the air vent but he still came out alive.

In 1995, Selak got hit by a bus. However, Selak only sustained minor injuries in that unfortunate event. The following year, he learned that his misadventures still continues as he drove off a guardrail to avoid an oncoming truck. His car crashed on a tree and he watched it go down in flames.

Selak’s life does not revolve around unlucky events. In 2003, just two days after his 73rd birthday, the Croatian teacher won a 800,000 euros (US $1,100,000) in the lottery. He bought two houses and a boat with the money prize. In 2010, he gave away the remaining money to his friends and relatives after living a frugal life.

#2 – Anatoli Bugorski: Half Forever Young

stories of survival - anatoli bugorski

Image: Mentalfloss.com

What happens when you get hit by a powerful particle beam in your face? Most probably, it will penetrate through your head and you’ll die. However, the story of Russian scientist and researcher Anatoli Bugorski says otherwise. What could have caused his death actually did him a favor by keeping half of his face young-looking for many years now.

Synchotron U-70, the largest Soviet particle accelerator, serves as the workplace of Bugorski. In July 13, 1978, while checking a malfunctioning piece of equipment, he stuck his head where the photon beam runs. He then saw a light described as “a light brighter than a thousand suns” and the shocking incident happened. Although he didn’t feel anything, the beam measuring 2,000 gray entered Bugorski’s head and measured 3,000 gray when it exited at his face. For everyone’s knowledge, absorbing 5 grays could lead to death within 14 days. However, no one experienced radiation at a speed of light in the form of a proton beam except Bugorski.

The Side Effects Of Particle Accelerator Beam

The left half of Bugorski’s face became worn out and hard to recognize. His face started peeling off after several days. Also, the proton beam destroyed parts of his face, his bone, and tissues of brain underneath.

Bugorski went to Moscow to let experts observe what happened to him. Although his brain received damage, his intellectual capacity remained the same. He lost the sense of sound at his left ear and the left half of his face became paralyzed. Other side effects include occasional absence seizures and tonic-clonic seizures but these did not occur immediately after the incident.

The most shocking side effect of the proton beam shot looks obvious on the left side of his face. While the right side if his face showed wrinkles, the left part appeared frozen for many years that it did not age at all. The proton beam works better than botox!

#3 – Roy Sullivan: Mr. Lightning

roy sullivan

Image: Lazerhorse.org

While seven serves as a lucky number for some, Shenandoan ranger Roy Sullivan would say otherwise. From 1942-1977, this man got struck by lightning seven times in different occasions and survived. It appears like he attracts lighting or rather, the lightning is attracted to him. Because of near death stories of survival, he received the nicknames “Human Lightning Rod” and “Human Lightning Conductor”.

No one witnessed how he got struck by lightning but accounts claim they saw the aftermath. The [easyazon_link identifier=”1910561339″ locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]Guinness Book Of World Records[/easyazon_link] verified the incidents and awarded Sullivan as the person with “Most lightning strikes survived”.

Early Lightning Encounters

The first brush with lightning took place in 1942 while Sullivan hides from a thunderstorm in a fire lookout tower. As the newly built tower got no [easyazon_link identifier=”B01GKE9ND4″ locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]lightning rod[/easyazon_link] at that time, it got hit seven or eight times by lightning. The event set the building on fire and when Sullivan ran out, he got hit by what he considered the worst lightning strike he received.

In 1969, while driving his truck, the bolt greeted Sullivan in a weird, unusual way. The lightning hit the nearby trees and it bounced into his open window. A year later, the third lightning hit him when it deflected from a nearby transformer. It burst to his shoulder searing it.

Running Away From Lightning

In 1972, his hair caught fire as the fourth lightning went down to him while in his duty as a Shenandoan National Park ranger. Because of this incident, he suspected an unknown force trying to obliterate him giving fearless Sullivan something to get afraid about. He began taking extra care whenever caught in a storm. He also thought that the lightning would strike him even if he stood in a place full of people just like what happens in an ironic cartoon scene. Since then, he kept a can of water with him.

According to Sullivan, when he saw the storm coming, he drove away but it seemed like the mad clouds are following him. When the ranger thought he finally got away and went out of his car, the fifth lightning surprised him as it struck his head directly, burning his hair off. He rushed to his vehicle and poured his head with water from the can he always carry wherever he goes.

The sixth lightning strike occurred in August 7, 1973. Poor Roy Sullivan told a storm cloud followed him and he ran away but still got struck. The last lightning encounter happened in 1977 while he fished for trouts. This sent him to the hospital with chest and stomach burns.


Roy Sullivan endured all this only to die from a gun shot to the head that he inflicted himself. Official records say that Sullivan committed suicide over unrequited love.

#4 – Joe Simpson: Fell From A Cliff

stories of survival - joe simpson siula grande

Image: Telegraph.co.uk

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates became the first climbers to ever set foot on the west peak of the Siula Grande. While descending the mountain, Simpson accidentally broke his right leg and heel. To climb down the mountain, Yates tied Simpson with him so that he can lower Simpson in stages. While Yates is lowering his climbing partner to an unseen cliff, the rope snagged which left him with the decision to cut the rope that connects him and Simpson.

Due to this, Joe fell 150 feet to an invisible end. Assuming that his partner died in the fall, Yates went back to the camp.

Despite falling from 150 feet high into a crevasse, Simpson did not die. When he assumed he will suffer his last breath, he took an act of suicide by rappelling further into a deep crack. He then managed to get out of the cracks with a ledge. For almost four days, the unfortunate mountaineer crawled five miles until he reached the base camp.

Touching The Void

Because of a misleading article, many people criticized Yates for cutting the rope. However, Joe did not agree and defended Yates vehemently saying that he will also cut the rope if he faced the same situation.

Joe Simpson wrote the best-selling book “[easyazon_link identifier=”0060730552″ locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]Touching The Void[/easyazon_link]”, which tells his story about the Siula Grande climb. It sold almost two million copies worldwide. After he recovered from his injuries, Simpson continued his mountaineering but moved to another career as a motivational speaker in many global corporate events.

Image: NBCnews.com

#5 – Truman Duncan – Halved by Train

Truman Duncan had a job as a railroad switchman. One day, he accidentally fell off the front of a moving rail car which cut him in half. Duncan lost both legs, and kidney, but survived the gruesome accident.

While others would pass out, Duncan remained on his senses and managed to hang the train. The rail car dragged him from 75 feet as his legs remain entangled in the wheels with one single muscle still attached to his waist. The grinding of every fiber of his body left him in an excruciating pain.

When it stopped, he reached his phone and  called the 911. It took 45 minutes before the rescuers came. Although Duncan got cut in half and bloodied, he stayed awake and even called his family while waiting. In an interview, he said that he didn’t think of dying in that tragedy.

Hospital surgeons spent three and a half hours to save the life of the father of three. He conquered twenty three more surgeries before he got out of the hospital.

Duncan continued working for the same railway company while wheel chair bound. He’s currently trying to learn the use of prosthetic limbs to help himself walk around.

#6 – Aron Ralston: 127 Hours

stories of survival - aron ralston

Image: Telegraph.co.uk

Aron Ralston went into a solo hiking trip in Blue John Canyon back in 2003. A boulder crushed and trapped his right forearm. In the movie 127 hours starring James Franco as Aron Ralston, he knew the trouble he has sunk into after realizing he did not inform anyone of his adventure, and he has no way to call for help.

To survive, he rationed his remaining 350 ml of water by slowly sipping small amounts for five days. He also extended his two burritos by slowly eating them. While worrying about food, he made a lot of attempts to free his arm by lifting and breaking the stone weighing 800 lbs. Desperate to get out, he prepared to amputate his trapped arm and made experiments with [easyazon_link identifier=”B01ETMVQOI” locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]tourniquets[/easyazon_link]. He realized on the fourth day that he would need to cut through the bones but he does not carry a tool that will help him to do so.

When he ran out of food and water on the fifth day, he decided to drink his own urine. Poor Ralston carved his name, date of birth and date of death into the boulder. He also videotaped his final message to his family. That night, he expected to breathe his last.

Self Amputation And Rescue

He didn’t expect to wake up the next day. When he opened his eyes at dawn, an epiphany came to him that using a torque, he could break the radius and ulna bones of his right arm. He did this with a [easyazon_link identifier=”B005DI2QTC” locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]multi-tool[/easyazon_link] including a dull two-inch knife. While enduring the pain, he rappelled down a 20-meter sheer wall, and hiked out of the canyon.

Ralston’s car was parked eight miles away from his location. Luckily, he met a family of hikers who gave him food and water. Meanwhile, his worried family narrowed down their search to the Canyon lands and flew there by helicopter. His family rescued him four hours later. The timing served a huge advantage in saving his life.

It took thirteen men, a wince and a [easyazon_link identifier=”B000234ISK” locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]hydraulic jack[/easyazon_link] to retrieve the amputated hand from the boulder. Ralston received the cremated hand and he scattered its ashes in the exact area where he got trapped saying that it’s the place where his arm belongs.

#7 – Robert Evans: Hit Twice in Day

This is a story about a patient who rode two ambulance in one night. And no, he did not get transferred.

Robert Evans, a 46-year old homeless guy, fell victim to a hit and run accident. While walking back to his way home from a hospital who attended to his injuries, he got hit by a train, which sent him flying into a creek.

Luckily, he survived his second accident on that day. The police authorities reported that Evans took a hit from the railing of a stairway on the side of the train. The railroad can only accommodate the train tracks and not for pedestrians to utilize.

#8 – Mauro Prosperi: The Sahara Nightmare

stories of survival - prosperi sahara nightmare

Image: BBC.co.uk

Mauro Prosperi, an athlete and also an Italian police who got lost in the Sahara Desert during the Marathon of the Sands event in Morocco.

In 1994, Prosperi and his cousin participated a six-day 233 kilometer event. While part way through, a sandstorm intervened causing him to lose his way. Disoriented and in panic, Prosperi ran into the wrong direction and his feet led him into Algeria.

Surviving The Desert

Prosperi ran out of supplies after 24 hours. He reached an abandoned Muslim temple which served as one of his stops. The lost runner drank his pee to keep himself hydrated. Soon he found some bats hanging upside down in the temple. To survive, he decapitated the heads of the bats, drank the blood, and ate its innards. A helicopter plane flew by and unfortunately, the crew did not see him.

He went on to cross the desert hoping he could find an oasis or a town. Prosperi tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrist with his [easyazon_link identifier=”B00004YVB4″ locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]pen knife[/easyazon_link]. However, due to dehydration, his blood thickened, and clotted the wound. This failed attempt left him with no choice but to continue feeding insects, cacti, and snakes he found along the way. He soon found an oasis with some people who provided milk and shade.

Prosperi wandered the desert again and after nine days, Algerian officers found and took him to a military camp, and to a hospital. His misadventure holds a total distance of 186 miles off the route and it cost him 18 kilograms.

The incident made him famous among Italians, runners, and those who participate hardcore marathons. Prosperi received a hero’s welcome and got swarmed by a lot of media invitations. The National Geographic Channel documentary featured Prosperi’s story with a title, “Expeditions to the Edge: Sahara Nightmare.” Discovery Channel TV also told about Prosperi’s near death survival stories.

#9 – Harrison Okene: The Man Who Lived Underwater

stories of survival - harrison okene

Harrison Okene went out into an adventure as the cook of SS Poseidon. The Nigerian sailor survived a few days underwater while depending his life in an air bubble. A few days after the incident, the lone survivor decided to tell everyone about his ordeal.

In May 26, 2013, Okene unexpectedly turned into a survivalist. In the morning of that day, their ship got caught into a sudden ocean swell while inside the bathroom. The speed sank the ship quickly but before it happened, Okene found a small pocket of air in an engineer’s office. With total darkness, no food, water, and oxygen, his survival chance plays at zero percent.

When South African divers arrive to recover the bodies, Okene did not leave his air pocket in fear of getting stabbed by a frightened rescuer. Who would expect to find someone alive in a sunken ship that sat at the bottom for a few days already? He just touched one person from the recovery team and held his hand up to avoid receiving a violent reaction.

How Did Okene Survive?

Science explained the numerous coincidences and great luck which kept Okene alive. The lack of oxygen, deep sea predators, drowning and hypothermia could kill him.

According to the survivor, he found a bottle of Coca-cola and a vest with two [easyazon_link identifier=”B00V7T1YRQ” locale=”US” tag=”geesgu-20″]flashlights[/easyazon_link] attached. Also, he avoided hypothermia by making use of a mattress he used as a platform which kept most of his body above the water level.

With the amount of oxygen in an air pocket, Okene can survive for two and a half days. But with a dangerous amount of carbon dioxide as he exhales, he should not last for more than two days. As water absorbs carbon dioxide, Okene’s splashing of the water prevented carbon dioxide from filling up the air pocket, sustaining the oxygen amounts.

After a few days, the rescue team got him out to safety. It was only then when he found out that all of his mates died.



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