Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

Lots of lucky people have survived the most crazy scenarios. Let's find out about the luckiest people who survived the impossible.


Sometimes it seems like luck just isn’t on our side, but when the unthinkable happens you’d be amazed to discover just how fortunate some people can be. From nauseating freefalls to freak weather accidents, here are some of the luckiest people who survived the impossible.

10. Natalya Pasternak

One summer afternoon in June 2015, 55-year-old Natalya Pasternak and her 80-year-old friend Valentina Gorodetskaya were walking through the Siberian forest collecting birch saps unaware that this was a trip they might never have returned from.

The pair had unknowingly crossed into the path of a huge brown bear which made an initial beeline for Valentina’s dog before turning its attention to mother-of-two Natalya. After attempting to separate the wild animal from her friend by hitting it with a stick, Valentina ran to find help, leaving Natalya to face the jaws of death.

During the hour-long ordeal, the bear assumed that its now-mauled prey was finally dead and began burying Natalya with earth and leaves in order to eat her later.

brown bear attack Natalya Pasternak burying Natalya

Eventually, police arrived on the scene and noticed that the part-exposed woman was still breathing. With no other option, they shot the bear and unearthed Natalya who later fully recovered in hospital.

Despite being buried alive and intended as a brown bear's next meal, Natalya Pasternak lived to tell the terrifying tale and even posted an update on her social media with the caption ‘life is beautiful’.

brown bear attack Natalya Pasternak rescued

9. Phineas Gage

On September 13th, 1848, then-25-year-old Phineas Gage was working as the foreman of a crew preparing a railroad near Cavendish, Vermont when disaster struck. He was using an iron tamping rod to pack explosive powder into a hole when the powder suddenly detonated sending the 43-inch-long 1.25-inch-in-diameter rod hurtling upward.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

The rod penetrated Gage’s left cheek, tearing through his brain and exiting through the back of his skull where it landed 80 feet away. Remarkably, Gage was able to walk to a nearby cart to alert a co-worker who rushed him to a doctor where the physician was astonished to find his patient conscious and able to communicate.

Despite losing sight in his left eye Gage was able to leave his house within a month and could even recount exactly when and how the accident happened, but it wasn’t long until those closest to him noticed something was wrong. His well-mannered disposition had been replaced by uncharacteristic aggression and lack of social decorum, and family and friends claimed he was no longer himself.

Phineas Gage railroad worker

Studies carried out in 2012 concluded that the injury had destroyed around 11% of the white matter in Gage’s frontal lobe and 4% of his cerebral cortex, causing irreversible damage to his rational processing. To this day Gage is remembered as one of the most famous patients in neuroscience.

8. Casey Wagner

They say lightning never strikes twice, but one man learned the hard way that famous phrases shouldn’t always be taken as fact. In October 2013, 31-year-old Casey Wagner was attending an annual off-road event in Saint Jo, Texas called ‘Rednecks with Paychecks’ when storm clouds began rolling in above. While waiting for a friend to return from the toilet, Wagner sought shelter under a tree – a mistake that would cost him dearly.

Casey Wagner standing under tree lightning strike

By the time he noticed electrical sparks splintering off the tree trunk, it was already too late: Casey was suddenly struck by lightning, and before he could hit the ground a second bolt struck his work boot sending electricity shooting up through his body. Luckily, a passing nurse rushed to his aid and kept him conscious while they waited for paramedics to arrive at the scene.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

Astonishingly, after just one night in observation, Casey was released with no major injuries and doctors claimed he was a living miracle. The chances of being struck by lightning in the US are around one in 750,000, so Casey Wagner was incredibly lucky to survive a double strike. One thing is for sure, though: he won’t be standing under any more trees during bad weather.

7. Sum Bora

In August 2018 one man beat all odds by surviving four days in the Cambodian jungle with no food, water or means of escape because he was wedged between two giant rocks.

View post on Twitter

28-year-old Sum Bora had been scouring the Chakry mountain jungle in the north-western province of Battambang in search of bat droppings or ‘guano’ to sell as valuable fertilizer when his torch fell into a small rocky hollow.

Bending down to retrieve it, Bora slipped and fell into the narrow crevice between the rocky terrain below where he became wedged in the rockface for four agonizing days.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

Eventually his worried brother discovered him and alerted the authorities, who took unbelievable photos from above before beginning a painstaking operation to free the man. It took 200 rescuers around 10 hours to cut away the parts of the rock which had trapped him before he was taken to a provincial hospital to recover.

The Cambodian police chief has since declared Chakrai mountain prohibited for climbing, and despite being dangerously weak shortly after the ordeal Sum Bora has thankfully returned to full health, making him one impossibly lucky man.

6. Christine McKenzie

Skydiving is a thrill for some, but for many others, the idea of falling through the sky is a total nightmare, even when there’s a parachute involved. When then-23-year-old Christine McKenzie prepared for her 112th skydive in August 2004, she had no idea that it would be any different from her other successful attempts.

sky diving skydiving parachute

As a seasoned skydiver, McKenzie was unfazed as she began her 11,000ft descent until it was time to prepare for landing and her parachute failed to open. Trying not to panic, she pulled on the cord of her emergency chute, but the lines got tangled and she hurtled toward the ground in a 45-second freefall before smashing into a set of power cables.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

By absorbing most of the energy from her fall the power lines saved McKenzie’s life, and when she was admitted to the hospital she suffered only a broken pelvis. Skydiving instructor Vana Gulliver was astounded to find her alive and claimed that a reserve parachute malfunction is basically unheard of. Despite her ordeal, McKenzie even announced from her hospital bed she was determined to jump again.

5. Greg Rasmussen

Greg Rasmussen is an animal conservationist who came a little too close for comfort with some of the fiercest predators in the African bush back in 2003. Rasmussen had boarded his single-engine plane over Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe in search of endangered rhinos when he lost control during intense winds and crashed into the plains below.

After quickly realizing that he’d broken both legs, Rasmussen was able to drag himself to a nearby tree to seek shelter. However, his nightmare was far from over. The impact had de-tuned his radio so any mayday calls went unheard, and he soon realized he would have to wait it out in the wilderness.

Greg Rasmussen plane crash Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe

Vulnerable and exposed, Rasmussen became an easy and appealing meal for nearby predators, and as vultures began to circle a stampede of elephants headed toward the wreckage. Thinking fast, Rasmussen beat the aluminum hull of his aircraft with a stick which scared them off, and he repeated the same trick after identifying the chilling call of a lioness as dusk set in.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

After surviving the night and fending off a hungry hyena with his drumming Rasmussen was found and rescued, and although after some 100 operations that restored some use in his legs, he is now 3 inches shorter.

4. Truman Duncan

Becoming known as ‘the miracle man’ is no easy feat, but 40-year-old Truman Duncan definitely deserves such a title after surviving being cut clean in half. In June 2006, Truman was working at Greenbrier Rail Services in Cleburne, Texas when he fell between a pair of moving railroad freight cars and found himself fighting for his life.

After hanging onto the car for 20 seconds Truman was caught beneath the wheels supporting 20,000lbs of deadweight which dragged him along for 50 feet before severing him through the pelvis bone. Miraculously, Truman stayed conscious and even contacted 911 before waiting 45 minutes for paramedics to locate him at the huge railyard.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

Blood loss had sent his body into crucial preservation mode and his vital organs like his heart, lungs, liver and one kidney remained intact. After 23 surgeries over 4 months Truman, who now uses a wheelchair, was fully active again, and he has even returned to work in the office at the very same railyard.

Truman Duncan train accident survivor on Today show

3. Anna Bågenholm

In 1999 Swedish orthopedic surgeon Anna Bågenholm made medical history when she was shockingly revived after freezing to death some 24 hours earlier. Then-29-year-old Bågenholm had been skiing with colleagues in the Kjølen mountain range in Norway when she lost control during a steep descent and fell onto a frozen stream below.

A hole then opened up beneath her body, swallowing her head-first and trapping her under 8 inches of ice with no means of escape. When her friends found her and attempted to pull her out only her feet and skis were above the ice.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

After 40 minutes of shallow breathing using a tiny air pocket, Annas body temperature reached a staggeringly low 13.70 C and she entered a circulatory arrest. By the time rescuers dug her out she had been under the freezing ice for 80 minutes, and when she was airlifted to the hospital she had undoubtedly been clinically dead for two hours.

After desperate efforts to re-warm her blood Anna’s heart miraculously restarted 24 hours after her initial fall, and after more than a year she was able to move again. Doctors believe that the extreme cold slowed her metabolism causing the brain to require less oxygen, and induced hypothermia is now practiced with critical patients to prolong the window needed to save lives.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

2. Ron Hunt

It may seem unlikely that the subject of an X-ray like the one in the image below could make it out alive but one incredibly lucky man has lived to tell the tale.

Ron Hunt drill bit through skull X-Ray

On 15th August 2003 construction worker Ron Hunt was working in the Tahoe Donner Subdivision in Truckee, California when one mishap almost cost him his life. Hunt was drilling above his head while standing on a 6-foot ladder when he pushed a little too hard trying to bore a hole causing the ladder to wobble.

Realizing what was about to happen, Hunt followed standard safety procedure by tossing the drill aside, but the power tool didn’t fall far enough away, and he landed face-first on the 18-inch-long, 1.5-inch diameter drill bit.

Luckiest People Who Survived the Impossible

The tool skewered his head by entering his right eye and exiting about 6 inches through the side of his skull, but it miraculously pushed his brain aside sparing him from brain damage, paralysis and probable death.

Specialists initially planned to cut the drill bit out but decided to effectively unscrew it free, and Hunt recovered from his injuries in just under a month. Despite losing an eye and suffering a fractured skull Hunt emerged relatively unscathed, and his cognitive health has proved even more remarkable than the curious case of Phineas Gage.

1. Real Life Final Destination Log Scene

If you’ve ever seen Final Destination 2, you’ll definitely remember the terrifying scene that involves a truck full of logs. But your fear of freak logging-truck-related catastrophes may not be so irrational after seeing the photo below.

Lucky Escape truck logs accident

In October 2019, one motorist in Georgia had an incredibly lucky escape after his 2003 Nissan Xterra was impaled by logs from front to back. The unnamed driver was bending down to collect a dropped coffee cup when he rear-ended a logging truck in front which sent as many as 40 felled trees smashing through the windshield and out the other end.

The scene may look like a definite death trap, but thankfully the driver emerged with only minor injuries because his seat was not in an upright position at the time of impact.

Lucky Escape truck logs accident

Firefighters cut through the mass of logs before rescuing the man in around 10 to 15 minutes, and the chief officer was astounded to discover that his head had ended up in a hole perfectly sized to protect him from the logs. This person needs to buy a lottery ticket with that sort of luck!

I hope you were amazed at these impossible survival stories of people who survived the unsurvivable. Thanks for reading!

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