The big sleep… taking a dirt nap… swimming with the fishes. Whatever you want to call it, we are all hurtling towards our own eventual demise with every breath we take. The following list contains ten unbelievable but true accounts of human beings who beat the odds and delayed the Grim Reaper from making his inevitable collection. Some of them are still walking among us. Here are 10 favorites in no particular order:
10 Isidro Mejia
In 2004, the construction worker was working on the roof of a house when he accidentally fell. The fall didn’t kill him, but the six 3 1/2 inch nails that shot into his neck and skull certainly should have. He survived because the nails barely missed his brain stem and spinal cord.
9 Richard “the Cat” Blass
In 1968, the mob made its first attempt to kill the Canadian gangster. Two hired gunmen entered a bar where he was hanging out, and sprayed him with bullets. Blass was able to escape unscathed.
Two weeks later, Blass was tracked down to a motel in a Montreal suburb. The motel was set on fire killing three people, but Blass escaped the blaze.
Later that year, Blass was shot in the head and back after being ambushed inside a garage. He was able to survive and get away by driving through the garage door. Blass required hospitalization for his wounds, but fully recovered.
In January, 1969, a bungled bank robbery and a cop shooting landed Blass in prison with a 40 year sentence. Within the first year, he managed to escape. He was caught, thrown back in the slammer, and escaped a second time. With his newfound freedom, and vengeance on his mind, he tracked down and killed his two co-conspirators that had testified against him. Everyone else in the bar was locked in and the place set on fire.
Blass’ nine lives eventually ran out soon after – he was shot 23 times.
8 Ahad Israfil
In 1987, an accidental firearm discharge blew off half of 14-year-old’s skull and brains. He miraculously survived, and doctors were able to fill the hole with a silicone block. He suffered no brain damage, and later graduated with honors.
7 Vesna Vulovic
In 1972, the 22-year-old Yugoslavian Airlines flight attendant was working her shift, when the aircraft was suddenly blown apart by a terrorist bomb. Vesna Vulovic found herself alive and freefalling from an altitude of 33,000 feet. Amazingly, Vulovic survived with only a “fractured skull, two broken legs and three broken vertebrae, which left her temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. She regained the use of her legs after surgery and continues to fly occasionally. She holds the Guiness World Record for the highest survived freefall.
6 Ludger Sylbaris
Ludger Sylbaris was locked up in a jail cell on the Caribbean island of Martinique when the Mount Pelee volcano had a massive eruption. Superheated gas and steam wiped out the entire city, flattening every building and killing every inhabitant, with the exception of Mr. Sylbaris. His jail cell was the most sheltered structure in the city.
5 Shannon Malloy
Shannon Malloy was in a car crash that caused an ‘internally decapitation’; her spine was separated from her skull and all connecting ligaments and tendons were cut loose. Despite this, she managed to survive. Shannon had to endure several surgeries, including one to fuse her skull to her spinal cord. She suffered nerve damage that made her eyes constantly cross and limited her speech ability. Her pelvis and ankle were severely broken, but could not be repaired until swelling in the brain and spinal cord reduced. Despite this, she still walks among us.
4 Roy C. Sullivan
The chances of being struck by lightning are very slim; the chances of being struck by lightning twice (on different days) is seemingly impossible; so what are the odds of being struck by lightning seven times? For Roy Sullivan, the human lightning rod, the events unfolded as follows:
1942 - Sullivan was hit for the first time when he was in a lookout tower. The lightning bolt struck him in a leg and he lost a nail on his big toe.
1969 – The second bolt hit him in his truck when he was driving on a mountain road. It knocked him unconscious and burned his eyebrows.
1970 – The third strike burned his left shoulder while in his front yard.
1972 – The next hit happened in a ranger station. The strike set his hair on fire. After that, he began to carry a pitcher of water with him.
1973 – A lightning bolt hit Sullivan on the head, blasted him out of his car, and again set his hair on fire.
1974 – Sullivan was struck by the sixth bolt in a campground, injuring his ankle.
1977 – The seventh and final lightning bolt hit him when he was fishing. Sullivan was hospitalized for burns in his chest and stomach.
His “lightning hats” are on display in New York’s and South Carolina’ s Guinness World Exhibit Hall.
3 Ann Hodges
In 1954 Ann Hodges was napping on her living room couch when a grapefruit-sized meteorite crashed through her roof and ricocheted off her large wooden console radio, before it struck her on the arm and hip. She was badly bruised but able to walk. The Air Force arrived and took the meteorite away. Ann’s husband, Eugene, hired a lawyer to get it back. Then the landlord claimed it, wanting to sell it in order to cover the damage done to the roof. By the time the meteorite was returned to Ann and Eugene (over a year later) public attention had diminished and they were unable to find a buyer willing to pay much for the 8.5 pound alien chondrite rock. Against her husband’s wishes, Ann donated it to the Alabama Museum of Natural History, where it can still be seen on display today.
2 Ben Carpenter
While crossing the street, wheelchair bound Ben Carpenter was accidentally “picked up” by a semi-truck. The arms of his wheelchair got stuck in the grill, taking him for a 4 mile ride at speeds over 50mph. The driver had apparently stopped at a red light, and didn’t notice Carpenter crossing in front of him. The light changed and Carpenter ended up having the ride of a lifetime. “What I learned is that I never would want to be a Hollywood celebrity,” he said after all the fuss being made by TV and newspapers. “I don’t know how they do it with the TV cameras and people taking their picture all the time. I went through it, and it was OK for a while, but a couple days was enough.”
1 Phineas Gage
On September 13, 1848, the railway worker was packing a hole with gunpowder, adding a fuse and sand, and then packing the charge down with a large tamping iron. The gunpowder ignited and the iron bar shot through his left cheek bone and exited out the top of his head, and was later recovered some 30 yards from the site of the accident. Within minutes he was up and walking. A few days later he had fungus of the brain. A couple of weeks after, 8 fluid ounces of pus from an abscess under his scalp was released. Damage to Gage’s frontal cortex had resulted in a complete loss of social inhibitions, which often led to inappropriate behavior. He survived the accident, but was no longer the same Gage that his friend’s and family knew. Today his skull and the iron bar that shot through it are on display at Boston’s Warren Anatomical Museum.