We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their "cheating death" experiences. Here are their bone-chilling responses:
1."I messed up a jump skydiving. I was able to correct the situation and pull the pilot chute for my canopy, but I was very, very close to having my reserve go off. The reserves are generally reliable, but it’s still nothing I want to test. Landed fine and then got a very stern talking-to for pulling so low."
2."Just google 'Levey PCH,' then ask away…I’ll be very surprised if anyone can beat what happened to me. THANK WHOEVER/WHATEVER you believe in for Apple, Scorpion, UCLA, and the LA County Fire Department and Sheriff's Department."
3."Minutes before it happened, I was under the Cypress structure that collapsed during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California (which was a magnitude 6.9). I was traveling north underneath the double-layered structure and felt creepy and claustrophobic on the brightest day. I raced to get out, as I always did, because I hated being under it. After getting out, I felt like my tire had gone flat and started to weave around in my lane, then I noticed that everyone else was losing control and hitting their brakes too. That was the earthquake. I didn't find out until later about the collapse, and felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I'd never felt so close to death before."
4."I was rappelling off the top of the tallest building in Bangkok (200 meters, or 656 feet) as a promotional stunt. I was supposed to rappel down to the 10th floor, land on a small balcony, and then traverse over to another building. The wind shear off the building was enough to blow me 20–30 feet away from the side of the building. Picture a spider hanging by a thread in the wind. As I got close to the 10th floor, I noticed that my rope had been cut and no longer reached the balcony, let alone the ground. The rope was about 10 feet short of the landing. So, still blowing away from the side of the building, off and on I waited until I was just above the balcony and dropped the last several feet onto the deck. Super pissed but alive."
5."Going to school in San Francisco, I got off the bus to get cigarettes and a soda at a liquor store. I stopped at the trash can on the way out to open my cigarettes and soda and walked half a block up the street when a crane fell off the roof right where I'd been standing 30 seconds before. The crane operator was killed, and half a minute earlier, I would have been as well."
6."Although being an ironworker comes with its fair share of risk, as long as you don’t become too incompetent, things can be safe. But that is easier said than done, seeing as the days are long and the work is physically draining. One day, I was about 60 feet in the air rigging a beam to be lowered to the ground. I signaled the crane operator to 'cable up' (lift the beam), but the beam wasn’t budging. I decided to look down the beam to see what was wrong...BANG! Before I knew it, the beam broke free and came up at my face with about 2,000 pounds of force. It knocked off my hard hat and hit every edge of my safety glasses, missing the side of my face by a quarter inch. I thought I had died, it was so sudden. I should never have put myself in what we call 'the line of fire.' I’ll never forget how close my kids were to losing their father that day because I let my judgment slip. Still gives me goosebumps talking about it."
7."I got hit by a car and walked away with no injuries. The Sunday before final exams during my last semester of college, I went to the library at 6 a.m. to study. At 2 p.m., I needed a break and started walking back to my car. At an intersection, I stopped, made eye contact with the driver of a car at a stop sign, and started walking across the street on a crosswalk. The next thing I knew, I was up on the windshield of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. He hit the brakes, and I rolled off the hood of his car and landed on my feet. I was so freaked out that I told the guy I was fine and left. Later that afternoon, I went to the hospital to get checked out and had no injuries. The doctor told me to buy a lottery ticket on my way home because I was so lucky."
8."While I was doing the dishes, my hip bumped the dial on my stove, turning it to ignite, but I didn't notice, so the stove was leaking gas all night. In the morning, I could tell something smelled off, but I have a hard time smelling things, so I just figured it was some old cauliflower rice I had thrown out the night before. To deal with the smell, I lit not one, but two candles, one of which was right next to the stove. Later, after coming back from running errands, as soon as I opened the door, I felt instantly violently ill, like a migraine and the flu all at once. Probably 20 minutes later, I finally saw the knob on the stove and realized what was happening."
9."One time, I was watching TV in my lounge room and I was sitting on the floor eating. We have a really big TV and we had an earthquake, but I thought it was a train passing by. It wasn't. I ran out of the room as everything started to wobble, and the TV nearly fell on top of me."
10."I went to summer camp when I was 15, and for our last weekend activity, they took us to Martha’s Vineyard and rented us bikes. Now, I loved riding bikes in the park as a kid but had never ridden in the street. But since 'you never forget how to ride a bike,' I figured I could do it. I headed out and tried to go up a street that was very steep. I started to lose control of the bike, and I fell into the street in between a truck that was hauling a trailer (I fell in front of the trailer). I saw this huge wheel coming at me, and my leg was stuck from the fall. I screamed as hard as I could and hoped it wouldn’t kill me (others told me they heard it a few streets away). The driver luckily heard it and slammed on the brakes; I was scuffed up but otherwise fine. You can indeed forget how to ride a bike."
11."I got hit by a train. I was living and working at a college that has train tracks running through it and only a stop sign before you cross them at the vehicle intersection. You had to cross the tracks to leave campus. I was headed to the gym in July, and the windows were rolled up and the AC and radio were blasting. I’d crossed that crossing a thousand times, so I stopped a bit, passed the stop sign, and looked right, but the train was coming from the left. Its horn blew, but I panicked when I heard it, so I hit the accelerator but braked immediately. I was already on the tracks. It only hit my front end and dragged me about 200 feet down the tracks. I only had a broken rib, three cracked ribs, and a pretty gnarly cut on my finger. The people at the next crossing probably thought they saw someone die."
12."My last day of driver’s education class, we were just about back to school. We were all feeling pretty good because we’d passed our tests that day. I was in the rear driver’s seat and had a classmate driving, one next to me, and a teacher in the passenger seat. We went through a green light at LITERALLY the last intersection before school when a car blew through the red light going 55 mph and slammed into us on my side, just a few inches back from where I was sitting. It spun our car into the intersection and kept going! We were all concussed and had to be taken to the hospital, but that was it. When we went to retrieve my bags from the trunk of the wreckage at the salvage yard, the shop owner admitted he hadn’t answered my ringing phone because he didn't think we had survived, and didn’t want to break the news to everyone calling me. Two inches between me and being crushed alive. In driver’s ed!"
13."I was walking to class one day, and the shortest route went under a viaduct. It had been snowing and melting on and off for the past few days. The viaduct is about 100 feet high, and just as I was about to walk from under it and onto the pavement, a 6-foot icicle fell those 100 feet and smashed into the ground in front of me. Suffice to say, I took that as a sign not to go to my lecture and turned back home!"
14."I was asleep in the passenger seat of a car on a highway when we flipped going about 80 mph. We rolled a few times and landed in a ditch. Airbags did not go off, and I shattered the passenger-side window with my skull. I literally walked away from it and didn't go to an ER until a few hours later. I literally had a concussion and one teeny bruise on my right arm, but nothing else. The nurses told me that if I had been awake for the accident, my neck would have snapped and I'd have died immediately. Whenever I tell people, they're always stunned — imagine my reaction waking up to a missing side window and a crushed car and being fully functional! I feel lucky every day that I was asleep and still have my life."
15."There was one time my sister and I were driving down a long road with a huge cemetery. I thought it would be funny to hold my breath because people say if you don’t, the spirits of dead people will haunt you or something. When I held my breath, my sister slowed down to torture me. I was a little annoyed, but at the stop sign at the intersection, this car going really fast didn’t even bother to slow down. They even swerved into our lane, so my sister had to barely dodge. I swear, though, if my sister hadn't slowed down to torture me, we would have been in a bad wreck. Now I’m not annoyed that she did that, I’m lucky."
16."This isn't dramatic, but it's continued to impact my life on a daily basis. When I was 11, I was playing baseball with the rest of my gym class. We took a time-out to argue about who was batting next, and I stood behind home plate, staring into left field. Play resumed, and no one told me to move. The strongest guy in the class laid down a single...and hit me in his backswing...with the baseball bat...in the middle of my forehead. I suffered skull fractures and a brain bleed. To this day, I have anxiety driven by the traumatic brain injury. The neurologist said that the fact that he hit the ball saved my life. Had he swung and missed, I would have died."
17."I was in college and I had just finished my last class of the day. It was a short walk to my car that consisted of crossing a pedestrian crosswalk on the street separating the school from parking. On each side of the crosswalk were speed bumps so cars were forced to slow down. At this time of day, a good number of students were getting out of class, and a large herd of us started crossing the street at the crosswalk. There must have been 30 of us. I was stupidly looking down at my phone and was walking rather slowly. I didn’t realize that I was lagging behind. Everyone else was on the other side and I was still in the middle of the street. At the same moment, I noticed a freaking DUMP TRUCK whizzing by in front of me. It was probably 1–2 feet in front of me. Either he didn’t see me still crossing or he didn’t care. After I got to my car, all I could do was sit there in silence for a while and contemplate what could have just happened. Even as I write this, I shudder."
18."This is definitely not the craziest cheating-death story, but it was definitely scary. I was at a waterpark with my family, and I don’t do well with heat and stairs — something about the combination makes me faint. We went on a waterslide that uses tubes, and it was a long trek up. I apparently was so sick from heat exhaustion, I passed out as I was next in line and hit my head on the tube. If it weren’t for the tube, they aren't sure I’d be alive right now."
19."It was during Christmastime, and my mom, my little brother, and I all wanted to go look at Christmas lights near the middle school. There was a hill and then a lane where you would wait for the light to turn green and then you had to turn left. Well, the main light had turned red, so it was our turn to go, and thank god my mom checked before going, because if she hadn’t checked, a truck would have hit us, going like 60 mph, straight through the side of our car where my little brother was sitting."
20."I was 4 or 5, and we were living in Estes Park, Colorado. At that time, I was challenging myself to go closer and closer to a river they have there. I was caught by the current and would’ve run into several rocks and a waterwheel if it weren’t for my cousin, who reached down, grabbed my arm, and saved me."
21."I survived hitting an elk in the Canadian Rockies and going down a mountain 15 times end over end, stopping 20 feet short of a whitewater river. I gave myself first aid. Doctors said I would never walk normally again and I'd have brain damage. I sent one of them a picture of me with three gold medals around my neck."
22."In the fall of '15, I was riding my motorcycle to work on a foggy morning. A truck with an enclosed trailer ran a stop sign in front of me while I was driving on a 55 mph road. I was unable to stop, ran into the trailer, and was pinned underneath the trailer, being crushed to death. A farmer was on his dirt bike behind the truck going to meet another farmer for coffee who lived on the corner of the intersection. Once he realized I was pinned, he ran to get his friend and his friend's skid-steer loader. They then used the skid loader to lift the trailer off of me and began CPR. Luckily, right as they started, a sheriff's deputy arrived on scene and took over. I owe my life to those two farmers. If they hadn't acted, I would have died underneath the trailer, as there would have been no way for first responders to lift it off of me (it had thousands of pounds of equipment in it) in time."
23."I've always been handy with tools and taught myself how to do things; I've been changing flat tires for anyone who'll let me. However, one day when I was about 18 years old, my buddy came over to chill, and he had his dad's brand-new Tacoma. So we chilled for a couple of hours, and when it was time for him to leave, we noticed that his front tire was flat, so naturally, I volunteered to change it (no prior experience with independent suspensions). I placed the jack on the frame and started to go at it — lifted the car enough to take the flat out. But when the fully inflated wheel was fitted, it didn't have clearance. My first thought was to get a second jack. Half my body was underneath the car, putting the jack in, when I heard a creek, and the next thing I knew, the car slipped. The car ended up with the front end touching the ground, and I got a big scrape mark on my shoulder. To this day, I don't know how or why I did not die under that Tacoma."
24."I lived alone with my dog. There was a hole in my gas heater, so it was leaking carbon monoxide, but of course I didn't know that at the time. My dog woke me up one morning, barking and whining, and I thought she had to go out to potty. When I sat up in bed, I got so dizzy and thought I would throw up. I ended up passing out twice, once hitting my head on the bathroom cabinet, very close to my temple, and once hitting my chin on the toilet seat. I called my boss — the only phone number I remembered at the time. (This was before cellphones.) She called 911 and they came to get me. They figured out I had carbon monoxide poisoning, and I was in the ER for eight hours that day. The doctor told that when blood gases are at a certain amount, the victim goes into a coma, without fail. Mine were more than double whatever that number was. He said no matter how much my dog was barking, I should not have woken up."
25.Finally, "I was at the beach with several of my friends, my sister, and my mom. Mom was sitting on the beach watching us. We were around 11–14, I believe, but no younger than 9. Kind of out of nowhere, we started getting sucked under the water in a rip current. I was being sucked under the pier and slammed my face into the barnacles. We were screaming for help, but at first, no one came. As I was being dragged under the water and coming up screaming for help, I could see people just staring and could hear my friends also screaming for help. Finally, people started jumping into the water to save us, including my mom. She jumped in and instantly got sucked into the current but managed to grab one of my friends. She used her body to shield him from the razor-sharp barnacles."
Do you have a wild "cheating death" story you want to share? Tell us in the comments below or feel free to use this anonymous form!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.