11 People Who Barely Escaped the Grim Reaper

Posted on July 23, 2015 and updated July 23, 2015 in Life Insurance Canada News 9 min read
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Falling out of a flying plane, having nails wedged into one’s head, or getting struck by lightning seem like surefire ways to die, but the people in our list of death-cheaters have done all of the above and lived to tell the tale.

Here is our countdown of the 11 most amazing stories who have danced with death and luckily made it out alive:

11. Reshma Begum

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Coming in at number 11, is Reshma Begum. In April 2013, 17 days after the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,100 workers, rescuers heard a banging sound from under the rumble.

Upon digging they were amazed to find the 19-year-old woman alive. Reshma Begum had found some dried food and some water to sustain herself during those 17 days underground.

10. Ann Hodges

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Number 10 on our list is Alabama’s Anne Hodges. This lady has made the record for being the world’s only known meteoroid victim.

One afternoon in 1954, Ann Hodges was enjoying a nap on her living room couch, when a meteoroid rudely crashed through her roof, bounced off a radio, and hit her on her arm and hip. Remarkably, apart from a large pineapple shaped bruise Mrs. Hodges was left perfectly unscathed.

What’s most remarkable about this event is the just how rare this incident is. According to astronomers, one has a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time than getting hit by a meteoroid.

Hodges, later donated the meteoroid to the Alabama Museum of Natural History, where is can be found today.

9. The Meng brothers

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Number 9 on our list is the tale of the Meng Brother survival in China’s coal mines-the world’s deadliest, where an average of 13 workers are killed each day.

Meng Xianchen and Meng Xianyou were working hard in a coal mine when the tunnel they were working in collapsed, burying them alive. A small rescue mission did take place, but their efforts were limited and ended very quickly.

Trapped underground with no food or water, the brothers ate coal and drank their own urine to survive. After 6 days they finally managed to dig through nearly 66 feet of coal and rock.

Amazingly, they only suffered from slight kidney damage, from a lack of water and perhaps the coal they ingested.

8. Isidro Mejia

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Number 8 on our list, is a very lucky construction worker who avoided death by a pinch, when he fell from the roof of a house while using a nail gun in 2004. While the fall might not have been so deadly, the six 3-½ inch nails that were lodged in his head and neck certainly should have been.

The surgeons, who took 5 days to perform Mejia’s s operation, could not believe he was still alive, as four of the nails were embedded in his skull and another was found near his spinal cord. If even one of the nails were projected a few millimeters closer to his brain matter or spinal cord he would have died.

Luckily Mejia not only survived, but also sustained only nominal brain injuries.


7. Lincoln Hall

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Coming in at number is 7 is the legendary Lincoln Hall, a mountaineer who seems to have died and come back to life.

In 2006, after climbing to the summit of Mount Everest, Hall began facing severe altitude sickness on the decent. Eventually, he stopped showing signs of life and could not be resurrected by his guides. Soon his guides were forced to leave him due to their dwindling oxygen supplies. They planned to come back to retrieve his corpse the next day.

12 hours later, a team of climbers were amazed to find a confused and frostbitten Hall, sitting up and very much alive. At 8700 meters, Hall was able to survive the night on the ridge without an oxygen mask. Although, Hall lost a toe and a few fingertips, he lived to tell and write about his remarkable tale.

6. Richard Blass

They say cats have 9 lives, and this certainly does seem to hold true for gangster Richard Blass. He was given the nickname, “Le Chat” meaning the cat, because of his luck in evading death.

In 1968, two gunmen were hired to kill Blass; although he was shot at multiple times he was able to escape. Not even two weeks later, the mafia tracked down Blass and the motel he was staying in was set on fire. Although three others died, Blass managed to escape again.
A few months later ‘Le Chat’ was ambushed and shot in the head and back. Again, he managed to drive off, avoiding certain death.

Not only was Richard Blass able to avoid death, but, this sly cat also was also able to escape from jail, not once, not twice, but three times!

Richard Blass’s luck ended on January 24, 1975, at one of Canada’s largest manhunt operations when police located and shot him 27 times, finally killing him.

5. Phineas Gage

Going back in time to the 1848, we find Number 5 on our list of death-cheaters, Phineas Gage.

Gage, a railroad construction foreman, miraculously survived an accident where a large iron rod was driven completely through his head. One minute he was packing a hole with gunpowder, pushing it down with a large iron bar, the next the iron bar shot through his left cheek bone and exited through the top of his head. Shockingly, Phineas Gage not only avoided death, but was up and walking within minutes.

Today his skull and the iron bar that shot through it are on display at Boston’s Warren Anatomical Museum.


4. Vesna Vulovic

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, making it to number 4, on our list of the worlds most amazing death cheaters is Vesna Vulovic.

This wonder woman holds the Guinness World Record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute. On 26 January 1972, an explosion on JAT Flight 367 caused the plane to break apart, causing flight attendant, Vesna Vulovic, to hurl down towards the ground from 33,000 feet in the air, without a parachute.

Although Vulovic broke her legs, fractured her skull, broke three vertebrae, and was temporarily paralyzed, she survived. What might be even more shocking is the fact that even after such a traumatic event she continued to fly periodically.

3. Harrison Okene

The 3rd most remarkable death-cheater is our deep-sea survivor, Harrison Okene. He was trapped at the bottom of the ocean for three days after the tugboat he was onboard had capsized. Unlike his crewmates who were stuck in their cabins, Okene who had gotten up to go to the bathroom was lucky enough to swim around until he found a miraculous pocket of air and a can of soda to live off.

Rescue teams scouring the waters on a body recovery operation were shocked to hear faint hammering and then Okene’s waving hand.

Our deep-sea survivor braved the freezing cold temperatures and a dwindling oxygen supply and luckily made it out alive.

You can find the footage from the rescue mission here.


2. Juliane Koepcke

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Stealing the second spot for most remarkable near death aversion is 17-year-old, Juliane Koepcke. In 1971, after a plane crash, she fell from the sky (about 10,000 feet) and into an Amazonian mountain, still in her strapped to her seat.

Luckily, the canopy of the dense forest slowed down her fall. Juliane only sustained minimal injuries and trekked through the crocodile-infested jungle for 10-days before she was finally found by a group of Peruvian lumberjacks.


1. Roy C. Sullivan

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It is said lightning never strikes the same place twice, but what about the same person?

The spot for the number one death-cheater goes to the world record holder, Roy C. Sullivan, for being hit by lightning seven times and surviving them all!

Now known as, “The Human Lightning Rod”, Sullivan was first struck in 1942, causing him to lose a toe.

In 1969, lighting stuck twice, knocking him unconscious and burning off his eyebrows. In 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1977 he was hit again and again, repeatedly setting his hair on fire. The 7th time lightning struck, Sullivan was fishing. The lightning caused him burns, which caused him to be hospitalized.

All seven strikes were documented and verified by doctors. Roy C. Sullivan died at the age of 71, not from the injuries sustained by the multiple lightning strikes, but from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Know any other miraculous people who have narrowly escaped death? Let us know about them in the comments below.

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