If luck stays on your side, you will hopefully never need to worry about surviving a deadly catastrophe. People who have survived tragedies, though fortunate, must live with that trauma for the rest of their days. Unfortunately, making it through the event is only the first step. Near-death experiences are haunting long after they happen and because of them, catastrophe survivors are often forced to confront their own mortality.
Many of theses survivors have shared their stories on Reddit and in doing so, they've been able to experience a sense of catharsis. Some even escape death without a scratch, making their stories that much more remarkable.
After reading these testimonies, you might be inspired to buy yourself a pedestrian airbag.
This Earthquake Ruptured An Entire Building
"I was going to a concert in Santiago and was staying in a friend's apartment for the week I was there. It was February 27 in 2010 at 3:33 AM. We were chilling with my friend and some of his friends when suddenly all the lights went down. We thought that maybe the building had a power malfunction, but then, looking through the large windows we saw all the city went dark.
"I don’t know if you guys have been in an apartment building during a huge earthquake, but it's like being on top of a wet noodle that moves from one side to another constantly. The first thing I thought was to stay away from the large windows and go under the table while everyone else was screaming like hell. I tried to keep them calm by telling them the usual 'Everything is going to be okay, earthquakes are usually short so we just needed to wait.' Jesus, I was wrong: the earthquake was three minutes long, the largest three f*cking minutes of my life.
"When it finished I was relieved. I checked if everyone was okay and they were, just scared... I told my friend Ben that we needed to get the hell out of there. Ben packed up a backpack with some supplies; when he was getting his backpack, his friends just ran of the place to get to their families. We told them to stop and that we need to stay cool and together but the need to see their families was greater and I totally understood that.
"Ben finished packing and we started running to the emergency stairs. We were making our way while using the cellphones to illuminate the hallway when suddenly Ben stopped me. I asked him what wrong and he simply replied 'Look' pointing to the floor.
"It was just like the movies, the building was split in half. I yelled, 'Oh sh*t' and Ben fell on his knees while looking at the bottom of the building. His friends, in the rush to see their families, didn't see the building was split in half and fell down. We expected the worst. Ben started crying and I was in shook; just 30 minutes back I was hanging out with them, laughing.
"Screams and cries created the atmosphere of that night. We made our way down through the holes in the building, while doing so we tried to help as many as we can, some trapped by giant stones, some just dead. The one image that will stick to me forever, was the one of a mother hugging her daughter in order to protect her: we found both of them dead.
"We got to the place where Ben's friends fell and they were still alive, with many broken bones but alive. We took them one-by-one to the road [to] wait for help from police, military, medics, or fireman.
"I watched and experienced two sides of humans that day, the ones that try everything to help other[s] in any way possible and... the ones that take advantage of the situation just to steal stuff from destroyed homes."
A Family Boat Overturned But Passengers Were Saved By A Friend And His Pregnant Wife
"When I was nine, we were traveling from our cabin back to town with [an] open boat. This was right before Easter, about a 45 min trip. The seas were rough and the boat had a built-in flaw that caused it to break in two pieces due to the pounding on the waves. I sat facing towards the back, so I didn't see it break, I just suddenly had water up to my waist.
"When I turned around the nose was floating a couple of meters away from the boat. My mom's husband at the time just said 'jump' and so we did into the black, two degree water of the North Sea, as far away from the boat as possible. This was by far the scariest moment. Her husband managed to launch two emergency rockets before the boat vanished below him. He was a very poor swimmer and even though we tried to hold on to him, he got away from us due to large waves constantly covering us.
"After that it was about 10 minutes of trying to swim to shore which was about 400 meters away, before realizing we were never going to make it. After that we basically dodged waves and made bad taste jokes. We saw people on the shore, cars stopped on the highway. The last thing I remember before blacking out is a boat approaching.
"Then I woke up in the hospital basically thrashing around from the cramps of my body trying to warm up. Apparently I had a temp of 27 degrees when they brought me in. My mom was awake the whole time. She lost control of her limbs right after I blacked out and gripped a rope from my life vest with her teeth so I wouldn't float away.
"Even though though this is a scary story there are some awesome elements to it. An old fisherman in a house by the shore saw the whole thing. He was desperately trying to get a hold of rescue services, but no one was where they were supposed to be. His wife, having lost both her previous husband and a son at sea, had some kind of a health issues while watching us swim around. So he had to take care of her and tried to get us help.
"The [coolest] part of the story is how we got rescued. One of my mom's husband's friends got a call about what was happening. He got in his boat with his eight-month pregnant wife and went full-speed to our location. The boat he had was not designed for high seas. It was a summer type cabin cruiser. So he had to steer it towards the waves at all times. His wife then proceeded to pull three fully clothed people up to safety, including an unconscious me. If anyone has ever tried to pull someone out of the water, you know how difficult it is. We all survived. I was totally fine, aside from my balls swelling up to three times the normal size for a couple of days. Mom tore a bunch of stuff in her back. Husband swallowed about four liters of saltwater and was sick for week."
This Sightseeing Ride Turned Deadly
"I was pilot-in-command of a small Cessna, taking my dad out for his first sightseeing ride on an October evening. He'd taken the backseat in one of my training sessions before, but this time was the first time the two of us were alone together and at liberty to go as we pleased.
"After a while, I noticed that the engine had lost 300 RPM. I pushed the throttle to max, no change. I turned on the carb heat [but still] still nothing. I began heading back to the airport but as the power slowly diminished, I knew we wouldn't make it back by a long shot. Conclusion: I had to get that bird down somewhere.
"It was night time. Beneath me were patches of fields or forest and I couldn't tell which was which in the evening darkness. I opted for the only well-lit place in the circumstances: the freeway.
"I made my emergency call, got a response, told my dad what I was about to do, and proceeded to fly the airplane. By the time I was on my so-called final approach, the engine was puttering along at a measly 1000 RPM despite a full-open throttle. All I had to do was... follow a slight bend in the freeway to the left, just past a viaduct, and I'd have three open lanes of road on which to land and probably surprise a few drivers along the way.
"Huge black bars suddenly showed up in my field of vision, followed by bright white flashes of light. The aircraft had just struck high-voltage power lines.
"By the time I was done screaming, the aircraft had rolled down in a side ditch and slammed itself against a fence. Ambulances arrived within a minute, pulled my dad and I out, and raced us to the hospital. I awoke in a dimly-lit hospital room (dimly lit because of the city-wide power failure I'd just caused)...
"Somehow, I didn't break anything, though, I had a sore and stiff body for a few weeks and my back became prone to locking for the next several years. My father had a few broken bones but was judged stable and set to recover. However, he suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed to his wounds a week later.
"I haven't piloted an aircraft since and have no desire to. I can be a passenger in an airliner or a commercial small aircraft without a problem but my days of flying are over."
A UHF Radio Saved Lives
"I was stuck in a bushfire here in Australia. My SO, myself, and our infant son were in the car evacuating on the only road out of our small town. We got very little warning as the fire moved so fast. Fire was coming on the right side of the road. Smoke everywhere, we could hardly see.
"SO was driving and luckily saw the truck in front of us and stopped in time before hitting it. A semi-trailer truck... had jack-knifed in the road and was blocking the way. We couldn't see if anyone was in the truck and I was going to go out and check but the fire was now at the roadside on our right and years of fire safety education had taught me you stay in the car. We had a UHF radio in the car so tried to contact the truck on that with no response.
"The fire started to blow across the road and ignite the bush on our left. There were embers raining down on our car, we just stared at them bouncing off the car bonnet. I saw a flashing red glow in the smoke beyond the truck and it took a minute or so to work out what I was seeing: it was a fire service truck. I had to fight every bit of instinct I had in me which was screaming at me to grab my baby, hide him inside my clothes, and run towards the red lights. I doubt I'd have made it, fire was literally blowing around in front of us but d*mn if that wasn't the strongest instinct I've ever felt. I just sat there in the car repeating over and over to myself, 'stay in the car, stay in the car.'
"SO managed to contact... the UHF to alert them to our presence. They sprayed water over us while a secondary truck drove through the burning scrub around the big truck to reach us and then the rest all was a blur, being transferred to their truck and driving out of there watching the bushfire raging behind us. Saw the news in hospital where they reported two deceased people found in that semi-trailer truck. Volunteer firefighters saved our lives."