10. Dionisio Pulido — the man who found a volcano in his backyard
On February 20, 1943, in the village Parícutin, Mexico a man named Dionisio Pulido stumbled upon a small hill that had appeared out of nowhere with a 6 foot wide and 150 foot long crack on top of it. Eventually, the hill grew to be over 6 feet tall and started belching gas.
24 hours after Pulido discovered the crack in his field, a furious volcano towered 165 feet over his property and was continuing to grow. Tons of ash started falling from the sky destroying vegetation, and in June lava began to flow from the volcano, which resulted in the evacuation of the entire village.
The volcano continued to grow over the first year of its life, but as time passed its activity slowed. Eruptions became sporadic with long periods of silence. In 1952, it finally went dormant, having reached a height of 1,300 feet above the surrounding valley. Thousands of people were affected by the eruption and forced to start a new life somewhere else.
Before leaving, Pulido returned to where his old cornfield was and placed a sign saying “This volcano is owned and operated by Dionisio Pulido.”
9. Aron Ralston — survived 127 hours trapped by a boulder
In 2003 Aron Ralston went hiking near Bluejohn Canyon. What was supposed to be an ordinary hike for the avid climber, turned into 127 hours of hell after he slipped and fell and a boulder followed him. The boulder trapped his arm, pinning it to the wall of the canyon. He tried to escape, but his arm wouldn’t budge.
After days of being stuck, he realized that he had to cut off his arm in order to survive. He was fighting inside his mind, trying to force himself to do it, but then he saw that his knife was too dull for it to work, and accepted his fate. Fortunately, he discovered that he could bend his arm and use the boulder to break it. Once he did that, he used his knife to cut off the remaining cartilage, skin, and tendons.
5 and a half days later Aron was free and was eventually found and rescued. Years later he helped producers make a movie called 127 Hours.
8. Vesna Vulović — the woman who survived a 33,000 ft fall
On Jan. 26, 1972, flight attendant Vesna Vulović took off on a Yugoslav Airlines flight from Copenhagen to Belgrade. As the aircraft flew over the Czech Republic it suddenly exploded, sending the 22-year-old into a 33,000 ft (10 km) freefall.
When rescuers arrived at the crash site, they found the flight attendant with her heels torn off her shoes by the impact. She lost a massive amount of blood and spent the next 3 days in a coma with a fractured skull, 3 broken vertebrae, and other injuries. Despite the major injuries she had sustained, she survived.
Guinness World Records recognized her as the person who survived the longest fall without a parachute — 33,000 feet (10 kilometers).
7. Anna Bågenholm — the woman who came back to life
Dr. Anna Bågenholm was skiing around a waterfall where she fell headfirst into freezing water and became trapped under the ice for a total of 80 minutes. At first, she managed to find an air pocket which helped her breathe, but only for about 30 minutes. Then the cold and exhaustion forced her underwater where she spent another 40 minutes.
Eventually, she was rescued and taken to the hospital. Her heart had stopped for over 2 hours and her body temperature was lower than 56.7ºF (13.7ºC). Both of these things are almost always fatal, but the doctors managed to get her functional again after 9 hours. She lost some fine motor control in her hands and feet, but suffered no brain damage.
6. Tsutomu Yamaguchi — the survivor of 2 nuclear attacks
On August 6, 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on an official visit, it was supposed to be his last day in the city, but something that changed the course of history happened. This is the story of the man who survived 2 nuclear attacks.
Early in the morning, an American B-29 bomber dropped “Little Boy” — a uranium gun-type bomb, which caused a blaze of light, followed by absolute destruction. The explosion almost wiped out the whole population of Hiroshima. He suffered burns from the blast and his eardrums were ruptured.
Just 3 days later, after he returned to his wife and son in his hometown of Nagasaki, a second bomb was dropped. This one was called “Fat Man” because it was a much more powerful plutonium implosion-type bomb and it destroyed the entire city. His wife and son also survived the attack.
Despite becoming sick due to the radiation exposure, he slowly recovered and went on to live a normal life with his family.
5. Roy Sullivan — the “Spark Ranger”
A Virginia Forest Ranger has been hit by lightning 7 times, which naturally put him in the Guinness World Records book, where he is described as the man who attracts lightning. There they describe the injuries Roy Sullivan suffered.
In there, they explain that his interaction with lightning began in 1942 (he lost a big toenail) and again in 1969 resulting in lost eyebrows. In July 1970 his left shoulder was seared and on April 16, 1972 his hair was set on fire. A year later on August 7, 1973 his hair was set on fire again and his legs were seared, on June 5, 1976 he injured his ankle, and on June 25, 1977 he received chest and stomach burns.
The day Roy got struck by lightning for the 7th time coincided with the 22nd time he fought off a bear with a stick.
4. Anatoli Bugorski — the man who was hit by a proton beam
In 1978, Russian physicist Anatoli Bugorski had an interesting accident where a proton beam hit him in the head. A particle accelerator had been used to speed up the beam almost to the speed of light. At the time, no one was sure what damage Anatoli suffered, because nothing like this had ever happened before, but most assumed it would likely kill Bugorski.
Bugorski wasn’t in any pain at the time of the accident, but he did say he saw a light that was brighter than anything he had ever witnessed. The damage he suffered included hearing loss in his left ear, as well as paralysis of the left side of his face.
He survived with these minor injuries and continued living a relatively normal life.
3. Ewa Wiśnierska — the paraglider who got sucked into a storm
Ewa Wiśnierska is an experienced paraglider who is internationally known for her paragliding feats. In 2007, Ewa was paragliding in Australia when she was sucked into a horrific storm. She found herself in a vortex at a speed of nearly 50 mph, and carried to a maximum height of 32,634 feet, higher than the top of Mount Everest and almost at the point where jumbo jets cruise.
Due to the lack of oxygen at that altitude, she passed out for nearly an hour. Amazingly she drifted unscathed through temperatures of −40ºF as hail and lightning raged around her.
According to doctors, the fact that 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 safely back on earth.
2. Joe Simpson — the man who crawled to safety on the brink of death
Joe Simpson and Simon Yates were climbing together in the Peruvian Andes when Simpson broke his leg. Yates tried to get his friend back to safety by using a rope to lower Simpson down the mountain ledge, but once they ran out of rope, Yates was forced to make a choice. He had to cut the rope to save himself.
Miraculously, Joe Simpson landed on a ledge without any new injuries. He was sure he would die, but didn’t want to die alone. So he crawled 6 miles over 4 days and eventually made his way back to the camp where he met his friend Simon again.
Simpson survived and even wrote a book and made a movie about his incredible journey.
1. Louis Zamperini — the man who was “Unbroken”
On May 27, 1943, a U.S Army Air Corps B-24 plane on a rescue mission in the Pacific malfunctioned and crashed into the sea. One of the members on it was Lt. Louis Zamperini who was a distance runner who had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He managed to survive for 47 days on only fish and rain water. Then he and the second member of the crew, 2nd Lt. Russell Phillips, were found by Japanese forces.
That’s when things got even worse for Zamperini. The Olympian had to endure horrible torture at the hands of a sadistic camp sergeant named Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe.
Despite the horrible ordeal, Zamperini survived the war and was liberated in 1945. In later years, he had a religious conversion and tried to meet with Watanabe in Japan to let him know he forgave him, but “The Bird” refused to face his old enemy.
The movie “Unbroken” was created in 2014 and it depicts everything Zamperini went through.
We hope you enjoyed reading the miraculous and extraordinary stories of these ordinary people. We would like to know if any of you have found yourselves in similar situations. Please, share your stories with us in the comments!