Life is unpredictable and we can never be certain about a situation. Things may look normal, but it only takes a millisecond to change it all into something disastrous. And despite how strong or well-prepared we are, there is always a possibility of ending up in a situation that is impossible to get out of. Keeping that in mind, we have prepared a list of 10 people who survived impossible situations and tragedies.
1. Anna Bagenholm survived the lowest body temperature ever recorded at 56.7 ºF. She had been skiing when she fell into a frozen stream and got stuck for 80 minutes. Despite being clinically dead, she made full recovery and now works at the same hospital that saved her life.
Anna Bagenholm was studying to become an orthopedic surgeon in Narvik Hospital. On May 27th, 1999 she headed straight out to ski in the nearby Kjolen Mountains after her work. Accompanied by her two colleagues, Bagenholm was enjoying her day when she lost control of her skis and fell into a frozen stream. The icy surface cracked and her body submerged in freezing water.
Her colleagues tried to pull her out but were unable to do so. They brought back help but at this point, Bagenholm had already been underwater for over 80 minutes. Her body temperature was 56.7 ºF and she had no heartbeat.
She was taken to the University Hospital. The electrocardiogram displayed a straight line, no signs of life whatsoever., but Dr. Mads Gilbert, the physician in charge, refused to declare her dead until she was warm.
She was rushed into the operation theatre where a team of 100 doctors and nurses worked in shifts for nine hours and eventually saved her life. After spending 35 days on the ventilator, Bagenholm finally woke but was paralyzed from the neck down. She recovered from paralysis and went back to work in October 1999. (1, 2)
2. Anthony Borges, a teenager, was shot five times while holding the classroom door shut using his body. Not only did he save 20 of his classmates in doing so, but he also survived the incident and made a complete recovery.
On February 14th, 2018, a gunman opened fire using a semi-automatic rifle at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooting killed 17 students and faculty members and injured 17 others. One of the injured students battling for his life was 15-year-old Anthony Borges.
Borges closed the classroom door behind him and kept it shut using his body. He was shot five times but managed to save 20 classmates. He was critically injured as the bullets ripped through his lungs, legs, and abdomen. The teenager spent two months in the hospital, underwent 13 operations, and eventually made a complete recovery. (1, 2)
3. Romain Grosjean crashed into some barriers at the speed of 137 mph, in the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The crash resulted in a deadly fire, but Grosjean walked out unscathed.
The incident took place on November 29th, 2020 during the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Romain Grosjean, a member of the Haas F1 team, clipped Daniil Kvyat’s car and crashed headlong into the barriers at a speed of 137 mph. What followed was a massive fire that engulfed the car.
The 34-year-old Frenchman was stuck inside the vehicle for 20 seconds but managed to climb out and reach safety. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for minor burns on his hands and ankle.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but if it wasn’t for the engineering and safety features introduced by the FIA, the result could have been rather different. One of the prominent safety features that saved Grosjean’s life was the “halo safety device,” a titanium bar that surrounds the driver’s head and is connected to the vehicle frame.
4. A 15-year-old boy survived a five-and-a-half-hour-long flight in sub-zero temperatures without oxygen in the landing gear of a Boeing 767.
Yahya Abdi, originally from Santa Clara, California, ran away from his home on April 20th, 2014. On a pursuit to see his mother who was in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, he made his way to the Mineta San Jose International Airport. Yahya climbed the airport fence and managed to reach a plane after lingering for six hours on the premises. He then crawled his way up to the landing gear of the Hawaii Airlines Boeing 767 where he lost consciousness as the plane took off.
The plane reached an altitude of 38,000 feet and temperatures as low as -80 ºF. Miraculously, the teenager was able to survive that without any oxygen at such a high altitude. Although according to medical experts, the sub-zero temperatures and high altitude pushed his body into a state of suspended animation due to which he was able to survive the lack of oxygen for more than five hours.
5. Juliane Koepcke, a 17-year-old girl was sucked out of an airplane after it got struck by a bolt of lightning. She fell two miles to the ground and survived 11 days alone in the Amazon Rainforest and was eventually rescued by villagers.
Juliane Koepcke was about to graduate on 23 December 1971. Despite her mother’s plans to fly on the 19 or 20 December, she insisted they stayed until the day of her graduation. Her mother agreed to stay longer and booked LANSA 508 for Christmas Eve since all other flights were sold out.
During their flight, the plane was struck by lightning which disintegrated it about two miles above the ground. Juliane was strapped to her seat as she fell out which helped her survive the impact with only a broken collar bone and some cuts on her legs and hands.
She survived on a bag of sweets she had found at the crash site and moved along a water stream that led her to a cabin. After surviving 11 days alone in the jungle, she was rescued by local fishermen who brought her back to their village. The following day she was airlifted and taken to a hospital.
Juliane reunited with her father and after recovering from injuries, led rescue teams to the crash site only to find out that her mother had died in the plane crash. (source)