11 Freak Accidents That People Miraculously Managed To Survive

Humans have shown throughout their history they are capable of feats of miraculous survival. Although it may appear our physical forms are not all that tough when compared to other creatures in the animal kingdom, the truth is there are many people who survived crazy situations that most of us would generally not be able to live through.

In a combination of sheer willpower, medical knowledge, and technology, people have been able to survive some really crazy freak accidents. These true survivor stories show us that even in the bleakest of situations, you can sometimes make it out okay. It’s a good thing too, because humans seem to be able to find themselves in all kinds of bizarre situations that cause shocking injuries.

Whether it is a freak accident or a stupid stunt, these unbelievable tales demonstrate the remarkable people who survived the odds despite the horrendous injuries they sustained.

Photo: Originally from the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus, and now in the Warren Anatomical Museum, Harvard Medical School / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

  • Anatoli Bugorski Was Hit With A Proton Beam

    In 1978, Russian physicist Anatoli Bugorski was involved in an accident where a proton beam hit him in the head. The beam had been sped up to almost the speed of light in a particle accelerator, similar to the one used at CERN, as part of an experiment in Russia. At the time, medics and scientists were unsure what damage could be caused by the collision, as nothing like this had ever happened before, but most assumed it would likely kill Bugorski. He was subjected to more than 400 times the lethal dose of ionizing radiation when he was hit.

    Bugorski did not feel any pain at the time the proton beam hit, but did say he saw a light brighter than anything he had ever witnessed. It seemed like the physicist was incredibly lucky. Besides part of his face swelling up to twice its normal size, there were relatively few side effects. When the swelling went down the left side of his face was paralyzed and he was deaf in his left ear, but he went on to live an almost completely normal life and even completed his PhD.

  • Roy Sullivan Was Struck By Lightning Seven Times

    Roy Sullivan was a US park ranger who worked at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. During his life, he was struck by lightning a world record seven times, each in its own separate incident. In the 35 years between the first and seventh strikes, he was never seriously injured, but did suffer from burns and get knocked out several times. Still, based on Sullivan's description, they were hardly pleasant experiences."Ever been shocked real bad? It's worse. Ever been scalded? It's much worse. It's like being cooked inside your skin."

    He considered his fourth strike in 1972 the worst, and claimed to have been struck as a child while helping his father in the garden when he was a boy, although it did him no damage. Sullivan died in 1983 when he killed himself with a gunshot wound to the head, supposedly due to an unrequited love. His status as a human lightning rod also caused some loneliness. As Sullivan explained, "Naturally, people avoid me... I can't blame them. Who wants to be near somebody that's all the time getting hit by lightning?"

  • Anna Bågenholm Was Submerged In Freezing Water For 80 Minutes

    When Anna Bågenholm, an orthopedic surgeon from Sweden, had a skiing accident in 1999, she almost certainly should have died. While she was skiing in Norway, she lost control of her skis, fell headfirst onto a frozen stream near a waterfall, and somehow slid through an open gap in the frozen water. Her body became trapped under the ice, which was about 20 meters thick. She found a small air pocket to breathe, and she suffered circulatory arrest due to the cold temperatures after 40 minutes. In total, she sat in the water for nearly an hour and a half. 

    During that time, her body temperature went as low as 56.6 degrees Fahrenheit due to extreme hypothermia. It took a team of over 100 medics at a nearby hospital nine hours to bring her back to life. It took an extra two months for her to recover from paralysis and gain back most of her bodily functions. By 2009, she only suffered from some minor nerve damage issues. It was speculated the extreme cold slowed down her metabolism, meaning her cells needed much less oxygen to survive.

  • Ron Hunt Had An Industrial Drill Forced Through His Skull

    In 2003, Ron Hunt was a construction worker working in Truckee, CA. As he was working on a job, his ladder suddenly gave way, sending Hunt and the drill he was holding down to the ground. Following standard practice, he attempted to throw the industrial power drill he was holding as far away as possible to avoid hitting it. Unfortunately, he was didn’t succeed, and his head clashed with the metal tool.

    The 18-inch long, 1.5-inch thick drill bit forced its way through his eye and out of the right side of his skull. By a miraculous stroke of luck, the drill didn’t tear through his brain tissue but instead pushed it aside. This meant there was no damage to his brain, but his eye was injured pretty badly. Surgeons took out the drill by unscrewing it from his eye. 

  • Ewa Wisnierska Was Sucked Into A Vicious Storm For Hours

    Ewa Wisnierska was a 35-year-old German woman who was an experienced paraglider who was internationally known for her paragliding feats. In 2007, she was paragliding in Australia when she ran into a horrific storm. During the worst of it, she was sucked up a vortex at a speed of nearly 50 mph to a maximum height of 32,634 feet, higher than the top of Mount Everest and almost at the point where jumbo jets cruise.

    As the storm raged around her, the lack of oxygen at that altitude caused her to pass out for around an hour. Somehow she drifted unscathed through temperatures of minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit as hail and lightning engulfed her body. According to doctors, the fact she passed out may have helped her survive by slowing down her heart rate and bodily functions. This gave her the chance to wake up later after the storm was dying down and then land back to earth.

    In the same weather event, a Chinese paraglider named He Zhongpin died

  • Truman Duncan Was Cut In Half By A Train

    Truman Duncan went through a horrendous ordeal in 2006 when he fell from a moving train in Cleburne, TX. Duncan - an employee at the rail yards in Cleburne - slipped and fell onto the tracks while he was riding a train moving to a repair dock. He tried to throw himself backward so he wouldn't be crushed, but got caught underneath it. 

    Some 9,000 kilograms of metal passed over him, destroying much of his middle and lower body. Despite being crushed by the train, he remained conscious and was able to phone emergency services from his own cell phone.

    When Duncan arrived at the hospital, it took surgeons more than 23 operations over a period of four months to try to save his life. In all, he lost his left leg, most of his right leg, a kidney, and his entire pelvis. However, he has been able to survive the incident and even went back to work several months later. Only this time in the office.