Nobody lives forever; that is one inevitable part of life. No one knows when, where or how it will come for us. Throughout history, we have heard stories of people who had quick brushes with death. While some people had a close encounter with the big D, some managed to dance with it. The following list contains ten unbelievable but amazingly true accounts of people who managed to climb back out from the dark side. These ten people survived against incredible odds and managed to live to tell the tale.
1. Bill Morgan
Bill Morgan was a blue-collar worker who lived off minimum wage salary. He lived in a caravan and never thought that an accident would turn his life around. The Australian man came back from the dead and won the lottery – twice.
Bill Morgan, an Australian truck driver, was involved in a truck accident that pinned him against another vehicle. Morgan died on the scene after suffering a fatal heart attack. He was clinically dead for 14 minutes but was revived back to life. Even though he beat death, he spent 12 days in a comma; where his family was advised to do the humane thing and unplug his life support to end his misery. As soon as the life support was turned off, Morgan jumped up with all of his facilities intact. A year after his return, he proposed to his girlfriend and she said “YES”.
A few months after being engaged, the man bought a scratch-off lottery ticket, through which he won a car worth $17,000. When a TV station heard his story and his string of luck that began after the accident, they decided to do a story on Morgan and re-enact his scratching of the ticket. As the cameras were rolling, Morgan bought another lottery ticket to re-enact the scene. This time, the lottery won him a jackpot worth $170,000 (250,000 Australia dollars). Morgan spent the money to buy a house for him and his fiance. Now that’s one lucky guy. (source)
2. Poon Lim
Poon Lim was a Chinese sailor who survived 133 days at sea in a raft he built off of ship wreckage. In the effort to cheat death, Poon Lim ate fish, drank bird blood and fought sharks before being rescued.
Poon Lim (March 8, 1918 – January 4, 1991) was a Chinese sailor working as second steward on the British merchant ship SS Ben Lomond. On November 23, 1942, the Ben Lomond was intercepted by a German U-boat U-172. The U-boat fired two torpedoes that hit the Ben Lomond, causing extensive damage. Poon Lim, in an effort to save his life, took a life jacket and jumped overboard before the ship’s boilers exploded. The ship sank in just under two minutes and took 52 of the 53 crew members with it to the bottom of the ocean. Poon Lim became the sole survivor, but he was stranded in the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight.
After spending two agonizing hours in the cold frigid water, Lim found an 8′ square wooden raft and climbed into it. Luckily, the raft had enough supplies for him to last a few days (several tins of biscuits, a forty liter jug of water, some chocolate, a bag of sugar lumps, some flares, two smoke pots and an electric torch). When Lim exhausted the supplies, he had to resort to fishing and catching rainwater in a canvas life jacket covering to survive. Lim removed a nail from his raft and bent it into a hook for larger fish. He used fish to lure birds, caught them and drank their blood as a substitute for water. On April 5, 1943, after 133 days in the life raft, Poon Lim neared land where three Brazilian fishermen rescued him and took him to Belém three days later. As of 2013, no one has broken Poon Lim’s record for surviving so long on a raft at sea. (source)
3. Ann Hodges
Alabama, 1954, Ann Hodges was napping on her living room couch, when a grapefruit-sized meteoroid broke through the ceiling and hit her on the arm and hip.
On a clear afternoon in Sylacauga, Alabama in 1954, Ann Hodges was taking her usual nap on her favorite couch when a softball-sized meteoroid pierced her ceiling, bounced off a radio and hit her in the hip. Hodges awoke with a jolting pain, to discover a black rock lying on the floor and pieces of her ceiling hanging down. She initially thought that it was the neighborhood children behind the incident. Hodges was badly bruised on her hip and arm but the doctor who examined her determined that she had no life threatening injuries. As the news got out, the Air Force showed up at the Hodges house and took the meteorite from her.
However, Ann’s husband, Eugene, wasn’t pleased with this. Then, their landlord argued that the rock should be returned to him since it fell on his property. Buyers were offering the Hodges up to $5,000 for the rock but it took more than a year for it to be returned. By then, the story, as well as the public’s attention, had diminished and they were unable to find a suitable buyer. Ann went against her husband’s wishes and decided to donate it to the Alabama Museum of Natural History. (source 1, 2)
4. Roy C. Sullivan
Roy C. Sullivan was a United States park ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, who was struck by lightning a record breaking seven times. He survived all seven occurrences but sadly died at the age of 71 under mysterious circumstances from a gunshot wound to the head.
In the U.S. alone, the chances of being struck by lightning are 1 in 700,000. That’s a slim margin but Roy C. Sullivan somehow managed to make Thor angry. During his entire lifetime, Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times. He not only cheated death, he managed to get his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. The events that occurred are as follows:
- April 1942 – The first documented lightning strike of Sullivan took place when he was taking shelter from a thunderstorm at a newly built fire lookout tower. The lightning burned a hole in his shoe, burned a half-inch strip all along his right leg and he lost a nail on his big toe.
- July 1969 – The second documented lightning strike occurred when Sullivan was driving on a mountain road. Usually, the metal body of a vehicle acts as a Faraday cage and protects people in cases such as this. But in Sullivan’s case, the lightning hit nearby trees and was deflected into the open window of the truck. It knocked him unconscious and burned his eyebrows.
- 1970 – Sullivan was standing in his front yard when lightning hit a nearby power transformer, deflected and jumped to his left shoulder; leaving him with a burn.
- 1972 – The fourth one happened inside a ranger station Sullivan was working at. It struck his hair and lit it on fire. Since then, Sullivan was known to carry a pitcher of water with him.
- August 7, 1973 – Another lightning bolt went for his head. This time, it hit him hard enough to knock him out of the car and set his hair on fire.
- June 5, 1976 – The sixth one hit him while at a campground, injuring his ankle.
- June 25, 1977 – The last one hit him while he was fishing. The lightning caused him to be hospitalized, to be treated for burns in his chest and stomach. (source 1, 2)
5. Peter Freuchen
Lorenc Peter Elfred Freuchen was a Danish explorer and an old-school 1900’s explorer. Born in Denmark in February 1886, the 6’7” tall man was known for riding a dogsled 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) across the Greenland ice cap in the 1910’s, killing a wolf with his bare hands, escaping a Nazi death warrant, amputating his own toes with a pair of pliers and much more.
The tall walrus-spearing, peg-legged, anti-Semite-clobbering, Danish explorer also starred in an Oscar-winning movie that was based on a book he wrote. He also played another part in a movie as a villain – which was also loosely based on a book he wrote. If you were wondering if he could get anymore badass than this, well he was also the fifth person to win the jackpot in the TV game show The $64,000 Question. He also wrote thirty books as well as founded two Adventurer’s Clubs.
The Danish explorer, at one time during his exploration, came upon an obstacle that posed a threat to his life. A blizzard buried him alive in an inescapable cocoon of ice. It was so tightly packed that he barely had any room to move his legs. After 30 hours of being inside the frozen ice cave, he decided to try the last resort to escape from certain death. The man molded his own feces into a knife and used it to carve his way through a solid wall of ice. He then spent three hours crawling through the thick snow to reach back to base camp. (source)
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