• True Stories

People Who Somehow Survived Multiple Random Tragedies

People who survived multiple awful events are part of a small and select group. Some individuals have an innate ability to be in the wrong place in the wrong time - yet somehow walk away.

Many people who survived accidents or terror attacks are left with lasting psychological problems, including a justifiable fear that they'll fall to yet another calamity. But others prospered and used their near-fatal experiences to teach others the value of life and perseverance.

  • Mason Wells

    American teenager Mason Wells has survived three terrorist attacks. In 2013, Wells went to the Boston Marathon to watch his mother compete and was a block away when bombs exploded near the finish line. A couple years later, as a Mormon missionary based in Paris, Wells survived the series of terrorist attacks that hit Paris in November 2015. Just four months later, Wells narrowly survived the March 2016 Brussels attacks with various burns and injuries from shrapnel.

    His father Chad Wells told ABC News, "He was blessed significantly by God. We see a blessing by this, not a terrible curse."

  • 'Matthew'

    A 36-year-old American, known only as “Matthew," survived both the 9/11 attacks and the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. Matthew was attending the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan when he was shot in the leg. He feigned death, and dragged himself outside when the shooters were reloading their weapons.

    14 years earlier, he had been on his way to a meeting at the World Trade Center when the towers were hit by terrorist-flown airliners. If he’d been running on time, he would have likely perished.

  • Violet Jessop

    Irish nurse Violet Jessop became a celebrity in the 1920s when she survived three different shipwrecks in a span of five years. In 1911, she was a stewardess on the RMS Olympic when it collided with the cruiser HMS Hawke. A year later, she was working on the Titanic when it hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage, escaping on Lifeboat 16 with a baby.

    In 1916, she was serving as a nurse on the hospital ship Britannic when it struck a mine in the Aegean Sea. She jumped off the ship, and at one point, was sucked underwater by the ship’s propellers and hit her head. She managed to get back to the surface and was rescued along with 1,035 of the 1,065 people on board.
  • Yamaguchi was working as an engineer for Mitsubishi in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. He survived, though with bad burns and ruptured eardrums. Leaving the city where he'd been posted on a three-month assignment, he took a bus back to his home town to reunite with his family.

    That city, in turn, was hit by the second atomic bomb on August 9. Yamaguchi survived (as did his wife and son), making him the only documented survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. As many as 150 other people might have survived both events, but Yamaguchi is the only one whose story was confirmed. He passed in 2010.