20 Survivors Of Plane Crashes, Shipwrecks, And Other Gruesome Disasters Tell Their Story

These stories from Ask Reddit will make you thankful for every single breath.

A shipwreck
Unsplash / Casey Horner

1. I was caught in a wild fire that turned the whole town to ashes

“Got caught in a wildfire in Chile early this year.

Pretty much half the country was burning, we were taking a few days with my family but the wildfires in the nearby towns rained ashes all over the region, you could barely breathe.

We stayed nontheless, and went to a nearby town, “Santa Olga”, because we heard in the news that the fires were too close to the town and threatened to destroy the entire town and we went there to help with supplies.

Then we decided to help with the wildfires uh, in a very primitive way, very few firefighters were around because the whole fucking country needed help and people were afraid of losing their houses, honestly looking at their faces I could not just go back home and that’s why we decided to help.

When we were trying to put off the fire, a random burst of fire went all around us and surrounded my family and like 10 more people inmediatly, it was unreal, didn’t know fire could spread that quickly.

We had no way out and the fires were slowly going towards us and we were trapped, we got really nervous and it was pretty scary since our proximity to the fire was soffocating us, it was pretty damn hot if you ask me.

I thought that was it, and I actually thought of suiciding somehow because I can’t even take it when I burn myself with a cigarette, being burned down was probably the most painful way to die, but I never had the courage to do anything but to stare at the fucking fires.

We could not run over it since the fire was super deep.

Suddenly we heard a few planes and they dropped a shit ton of water that gave us a miraculous path to get the fuck out of there, there was still a lot of fire around but it was thin enough for us to run over it.

Also, the water hit us hard, it was a fuckton of water, but hey they saved my life and many others.

We inmediatly got into our car and got the fuck out of there, we wanted nothing to do with it, as selfish as it sounds, we were shocked and said fuck helping we’re out, we’re totally done helping here.

That town, Santa Olga, was actually 100% consumed by the fires, an entire town turned into ashes.” — I_like_earthquakes

2. Our building swayed side to side during an earthquake

“I was on the top floor of a six-story building in Kathmandu when the almost 7 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal in 2015. I was with my girlfriend and I remember the whole building swaying side-to-side as if it was a reed in the wind. My girlfriend screamed and asked if we were being bombed but somehow I knew it was an earthquake and I told her so. I held her under a door frame, like we’d been taught and when the shaking stopped, we ran out like our lives depended on it.

We were lucky. Our building didn’t collapse but so many others did. Thousands of people died in that earthquake. I still have PTSD, whenever my building shakes because of a passing truck or a heavy vehicle, I think instinctively that it is another earthquake.” — xkathmandu

3. There was a suicide bombing close to where we lived

“I am from Syria, about 5 years ago when I was 9 I think, me and my brother were preparing to go to school. Then suddenly we hear a loud explosion, all the glass in the windows shattered and the doors leading to the balcony were locked so the locks broke and the doors slammed open. After that we heard a lot of shooting. I wouldn’t stop screaming so my mom covered my mouth to shut me up and we all hid in a room that had no windows so it would be safer and waited for things to calm down. We got a lot of calls meanwhile from people who found out that the bombing was so close to us and were concerned. I don’t recall how long it took for things to calm down but when it finally did we found it that it was a suicide bombing very close to where we live. Roughly 4 years ago I was lucky enough to immigrate to Sweden, very nice country with nice people.” — LemonBarf

4. A tsunami killed a lot of my childhood friends and their families

“So when I was a very young child, I lived in South East Asia. One day early in the morning I was just playing, my parents must have been doing their morning prayers and the next thing I knew the entirety of the ocean was spilling over itself. We lived on the coast at this time and it was like the whole ocean had just lifted out. My dad grabbed me and ran towards a block of apartments at the end of the street. I don’t know what happened to my mum but she must have been unable to run fast enough because I’m pretty sure she got overwhelmed by the tide and survived by holding on to a tree. I’m not entirely sure how she survived actually, because looking back on the extent of the 2004 tsunami she should have been swept away completely by the force of the water.

So now I’m on the top of this roof and my dad goes back in, swimming to our house to retrieve our passports and documents, while the water keeps creeping up. I think it was a 4 or 5 storey building and the water must have reached the second or 3rd floor. He must have been a really strong swimmer because he got pretty much all of our documents in between the waves (and probably saved my mum as well???)

After this we were able to stay with friends some distance away after this, but everything in the town got destroyed. In fact I realized the reason why my parents don’t bring up my childhood friends or try to keep in contact with their families is because they’re dead. This is pretty much the only really vivid memory I have from that age, and my parents still kind of had a fear of the sea for a long time after that (they still can’t handle videos of flooding).” — punking_funk

5. I survived an airplane crash and suffered massive head trauma

“Here’s a question I can honestly answer: I survived an airplane crash. The story: My mother owned a few aircraft and hangar at our small town’s airport. I spent a lot of time at the airport as I was growing up spending summer washing airplanes, sweeping out hangars, etc. One warm summer afternoon in the mid-1980’s we planned to take a short flight in her Piper J-3 Cub. This plane was built in the mid-1940’s and had an aluminum skeleton covered in fabric and tandem seats, one in front, one in back. I sat in front due to the better view and my mom, the pilot, sat in back. I remember the pre-flight, and some taxiing to the runway, but nothing else. Now the rest of the story I received second hand. Neither my mom nor I remember anything of the actual accident due to the massive head trauma we both received. But what I’ve heard from family and the ambulance drivers who arrived on the scene is that on take off (the most dangerous part of any flight, imho) we lost power. Engine cut out, not really sure why. So with a relatively slow airspeed and no thrust from the engine we changed from being a beautiful flying machine to a brick, rather quickly. Well, we dropped like a brick and proceeded to hit the ground in a rather quick manner. The ambulance drivers who arrived on the scene thought we were done for. Things did not look good for us. But after a helicopter ride to the nearest trauma center a hundred miles away, we are still alive and breathing today. I spent about 5 weeks in the hospital, but only remember the last two. To remind me what happened I have nasty scars on my lower lip and chin and a dent on the side of head. One thing I find myself wondering is if I had the chance to relive the whole thing over again would I want to remember? At this point in my life I can say I would not. Such things are not worth remembering. And did we ever fly again? You bet. As soon as my mom was able to pass a flight physical we were both up in the air again.” — geneaskew

6. We were stuck inside of a deadly Australian bushfire

“I was stuck in a bushfire here in Australia. My SO, myself and our infant son were in the car evacuating on the only road out of our small town, we got very little warning as the fire moved so fast. Fire was coming on the right side of the road. Smoke everywhere, could hardly see. SO was driving and luckily saw the truck in front of us and stopped in time before hitting it. A semi-trailer truck (18 wheeler) had jack-knifed in the road and was blocking the way. We couldn’t see if anyone was in the truck and I was going to go out and check but the fire was now at the roadside on our right and years of fire safety education had taught me you stay in the car. We had a UHF radio in the car so tried to contact the truck on that with no response. The fire started to blow across the road and ignite the bush on our left. There were embers raining down on our car, we just stared at them bouncing off the car bonnet. I saw a flashing red glow in the smoke beyond the truck and it took a minute or so to work out what I was seeing, it was a fire service truck. I had to fight every bit of instinct I had in me which was screaming at me to grab my baby, hide him inside my clothes and run towards the red lights. I doubt I’d have made it, fire was literally blowing around in front of us but damn if that wasn’t the strongest instinct I’ve ever felt. I just sat there in the car repeating over and over to myself, ‘stay in the car, stay in the car.’ SO managed to contact the firies on the UHF to alert them to our presence. They sprayed water over us while a secondary truck drove through the burning scrub around the big truck to reach us and then the rest all was a blur, being transferred to their truck and driving out of there watching the bushfire raging behind us. Saw the news in hospital where they reported two deceased people found in that semi-trailer truck. Volunteer firefighters saved our lives.” — pedazzle

7. Our boat broke into pieces so we were forced to jump into the water

“When I was 9, we were traveling from our cabin back to town with a open boat. This was right before easter. About a 45 min trip. The seas were rough and the boat had a built in flaw that caused it to break in two pieces due to the pounding on the waves. I sat faced towards the back, so I didn’t see it break, just suddenly had water up to my waist. When I turned around the nose was floating a couple of meters away from the boat. My moms husband at the time just said “jump” and so we did, into the black 2 degree water of the north sea, as far away from the boat as possible. This was by far the scariest moment. Her husband managed to launch 2 emergency rockets before the boat vanished below him. He was a very poor swimmer, and even though we tried to hold on to him, he got away from us due to large waves constantly covering us. After that it was about 10 min of trying to swim to shore which was about 400m away, before realizing we were never going to make it. After that we basically dodged waves and made bad taste jokes. We saw people on the shore, cars stopped on the highway. The last thing I remember before blacking out is a boat aproaching. Then I woke up in the hospital basically trashing around from the cramps of my body trying to warm up. Apparantly I had a temp of 27 degrees when they brought me in. My mom was awake the whole time. She lost control of her limbs right after I blacked out, and gripped a rope from my lifewest with her teeth so I wouldnt float away. Even though though this is a scary story there are some awesome elements to it. An old fisherman in a house by the shore saw the whole thing. He was desperatly trying to get a hold of rescue services, but noone was where they were supposed to be. His wife having lost both her previous husband and also a son at sea had some kind of a health issue while watching us swim around. So he had to take care of her, and try to get us help. The most badass part of the story is how we got rescued. One of my moms husbands friends got a call about what was happening. Got in his boat with his 8 month pregnant wife, and went full speed to our location. The boat he had was not designed for high seas. It was a summer type cabin cruiser. So he had to steer it towards the waves at all times. His wife then proceeded to pull 3 fully clothed people up to safety. Including an unconscious me. If anyone has ever tried to pull someone out of the water, you know how difficult it is. We all survived, I was totally fine, aside from my balls swelling up to 3 times the normal size for a couple of days. Mom tore a bunch of stuff in her back. Husband swallowed about 4 liters of saltwater and was sick for week.” — Codvodka

8. Our aircraft struck high voltage power lines

“I was pilot-in-command of a small Cessna, taking my dad out for his first sightseeing ride on an October evening. He’d taken the backseat in one of my training sessions before, but this time was the first time the two of us were alone together and at liberty to go as we pleased.

After a while, I noticed that the engine had lost 300 RPM. I pushed the throttle to max… no change. Turned on the carb heat (if I remember correctly)… nope, still nothing. I began heading back to the airport, but as the power slowly diminished, I knew we wouldn’t make it back by a long shot. Conclusion: I had to get that bird down somewhere.

It was night time. Beneath me were patches of fields or forest, and I couldn’t tell which was which in the evening darkness. I opted for the only well-lit place in the circumstances: the freeway.

I made my emergency call, got a response, told my dad what I was about to do, and proceeded to fly the airplane. By the time I was on my so-called final approach, the engine was puttering along at a measly 1000 RPM despite a full-open throttle. All I had to do was to follow a slight bend in the freeway to the left, just past a viaduct, and I’d have three open lanes of road on which to land and probably surprise a few drivers along the way.

Huge black bars suddenly showed up in my field of vision, followed by bright white flashes of light. The aircraft had just struck high-voltage power lines.

By the time I was done screaming, the aircraft had rolled down in a side ditch and slammed itself against a fence.

Ambulances arrived within a minute, pulled my dad and I out, and raced us to the hospital. I awoke in a dimly-lit hospital room – dimly lit because of the city-wide power failure I’d just caused, which I realized once all the other lights turned on late at night and the nurses cheered at getting power back.

Somehow, I didn’t break anything, though I had a sore and stiff body for a few weeks, and my back became prone to locking for the next several years. My father had a few broken bones, but was judged stable and set to recover. However, he suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed to his wounds a week later.

I haven’t piloted an aircraft since, and have no desire to. I can be a passenger in an airliner or a commercial small aircraft without a problem, but my days of flying are over.” — Shurikane

9. Our boat threw us ten feet and starting sinking

“When I was 19 my buddy and I went fishing is a pretty big lake up in Gainesville Florida, I was sitting at the very front with the cooler to try to balance out the weight and while we were crossing the middle of the lake in our gheenoe we had a paddle strapped to the side and it caught the water while we were going about 20mph, it threw us probably 7-10 ft and immediately started sinking. About five minutes before that happened we decided to put both of our phones in a water proof box which ultimately saved us bc there was no one else out that day given it was a little chilly outside. So after we were in the water the boat started sinking fast but my friend and I stayed calm and started brainstorming on what we should do. First thing I did was swim down to the boat and by feel had to find the phones, once that happened we called the police but there response time was awful, we were treading in water that was cold enough to give us hypothermia, with the box that had our phones in it over our heads for about 50 minuets until the dispatch lady said they were commandeering someone else’s boat because there’s wasn’t starting. Once we got out the officers told us that they were expecting to find us dead either from getting stuck on the mushy bottom and drowning or by some of the big gators but luckily we didn’t encounter any of them. After the ambulance took our temperature and we came back fine they proceeded to makes sure we were okay then let us get on with our day. Life and death situations are no joke and they can happen at anytime. Make sure you are prepared mentally and physically, your life or your friends may depend on you and how you’ve trained.” — LordLogan27

10. My plane landed in a field and flipped over

“Flying in a single-engine Cessna 210, my family was on the final leg of a 2 week camping trip. My dad, piloting, had started the decent down when at 3,000 feet, our engine started rattling uncontrollably. 10 year old me remembers seeing the oil temperature gauge in the red, but not understanding the significance. As the rattling got worse, my dad shut the engine off and radioed Mayday to the tower. That’s when I started to pray. We were only 5 ish miles from our final destination, but we had to make an emergency landing in a field.

I remember staring out the window at the ground thinking about my cat, and my mom leaning back from the co-pilot seat to tell my brother and I to pull our legs up for the crash position. My dad exchanged a few other words with the controller and then shut the rest of the plane down.

We hit the ground a little fast at 80 knots (normal is 65-70 kts). Our front gear struck an irrigation pipe running across the field which caused it to shear off. Without a front gear, our nose hit the field and we went belly-side up.

When I came to, everything was eerily dark, and I was hanging upside down. My dad basically ripped the doors off the back of the plane to get my brother and I out. My family was shaken up, but okay.

The farmer appeared minutes later, absolutely astonished. Then, five news helicopters starting circling. Traffic was backed up for miles around the field as people strained to get a look. Then the paramedics arrived. My mom likes to joke they were a bit disappointed to find ‘victims of a plane crash’ to be standing around chatting. The worst injury of the lot was my cut lip which I cut with my own teeth in the jolt of the crash. And my parents got some bruising from seat belts a few days later.

The farmer’s wife gave my brother and I cheese-its and honey sticks and I can’t eat them to this day. And the first thing I did when I got back home was hug my cat, as a ten year old does.

As far as my individual story goes, I got my pilot’s license three years ago at the age of 18. I’m now in school to become an aerospace engineer where I hope to one day design planes that save people like this one saved my life. It failed in the most elegant of ways, and my dad’s quick thinking and training was able to see us to the ground alive.

And for those wondering what happened to the plane, an unidentified object clogged the oil filter in the engine leading to a piston overheating, snapping, and punching a hole in the side of the engine.” — iforgottoeatlunch

11. I survived a shooting a few years ago

“Survived the Isla Vista shooting of 2014. I still get jumpy when I hear fireworks or other loud noises. My immediate response is almost always to scramble under the nearest table. PTSD is a bitch.” — gnadanaid

12. A tornado swept across our state

“I survived a nearly EF-5 tornado.

A few years ago, living in rural Arkansas, the weather got bad. This is hardly an uncommon occurrence. My now-fiance and I had just gotten a puppy that very day, and we also had two cats at home. We lived in a duplex. Around, 7:30ish? our phones started alerting to severe weather, and we switched on the TV to watch the radar. Tornado. Heading our way. I threw my cats in the bathroom, while my partner went outside to watch the weather. It was pouring rain. Never heard such heavy rain before. And then – the rain stopped. He rushed in, threw everything out of the innermost closet, and we hunkered in there with the puppy. He texted his parents: Tornado. And we waited.

They say it sounds like a freight train, and they’re right. The building was shaking, and there was this roar. I was terrified. Holding the puppy and my phone with one arm/hand, holding my partner’s hand with the other, just waiting for the building to collapse on me. He said he was quite certain we were about to die.

And then… it stopped. We came out of the closet, and out of the house to look around, dazed, just like the neighbors. I called my parents a few towns over – they owned the property, so I was telling them what was damaged. Our duplex was fine, some minor stuff only. A tree had fallen within inches of both another duplex and a neighbor’s vehicle. Another tree had fallen on a third duplex – that one was totalled by the insurance company, it’s an empty slab now. But no one in our immediate neighborhood was killed or injured. A lady in the destroyed one had been luckily sheltering in her bathroom, as the tree came down right over her bed.

We were all unhurt, but it was the most terrifying experience of my life, because the tornado – which did cause several deaths elsewhere – had literally jumped over our little neighborhood. Had it stayed on the ground, we’d surely be dead now.” — hockeypup

13. My house blew up after a gas leak near the fireplace

“When I was 10 years old, less than 10 days before Christmas time there was a gas leak at my house. We had no idea it was leaking, but it had been building up behind our wall near the gas fireplace for a while. In the morning I was getting ready to go to school. My mom was almost ready to go to work, and I was tying my shoes to head out the door. My mom comes out of the bathroom and is putting on her earrings, grabbing her self phone, etc and is heading toward the door. She tells me to unplug the christmas tree lights (we love decorating). When I did the spark from unplugging them ignited the box around the socket, and then the pocket of gas behind the wall. It all blew up. The fire place was pushed out of the wall in one whole piece. The wall was destroyed. The mantle over the fireplace flew clear across the room. The Nutcrackers we left on the fireplace flew across the room and 2 got embedded in the wall. The Christmas tree (luckily a fake plastic one) was knocked over. The side facing the wall was curled, melted, and burned. Almost every ornament made of breakable stuff was shattered. Rather from the boom, or the fall, hard to tell. The shock wave traveled through the house, down the hallway into my moms room and blew out the sliding glass door, and blew it into the pool in pieces the size of pennies or smaller. All throughout the house were stress cracks in the sheet rock. Cracks in windows. Various things. We were lucky. I got minor burns on my face. I was just off to the side of said blown up wall. My mom was sitting on a chair near the door, far away from it all. Had she sat on the couch to put on her shoes (as she does sometimes) she may have been severely injured or worse. There was no real fire. It was more of a blast of really hot air, really fast. The fireman chief called it a “flash fire” There was no fire because there was nothing close enough to the hottest part that could ignite. (good thing we got a fake reusable tree that year to save money) If we had not, it DEFINITELY would of blown up.” — BloodySpies

14. Our boat crashed while my mother-in-law was pregnant

“My husband’s parents lived on a boat off the coast of Asia for a while about 20something years ago. Well when my mother-in-law was about 8 months pregnant with my brother-in-law, the boat sank in the middle of the ocean. It happened slowly, over the course of a day or so, so the couple sent out a bunch of distress calls, packed the important things, and camped out in the lifeboat while the ship sank. They saved a few nice things for their eventual rescuers: a nice canned ham and a good bottle of wine. Well, they were eventually picked up by the Exxon Valdez, which was fortunate. Unfortunately, at the time the crew was entirely Muslim, and as such the canned ham and nice wine weren’t ideal gifts.” — LatrodectusGeometric

15. I broke my nose and a tooth when a deck collapsed

“I don’t know if it counts, but I was in a deck collapse that made national news about 7 years ago.

About 10 of my friends were at a party at a buddy’s house for the 4th. The deck was about 30 feet off the ground (2nd floor deck, sloping back yard). I’d just sat down and I heard what sounded like a tree falling. I remember looking a friend to ask, ‘What was that?’ but I barely got ‘what’ out of my mouth when the deck went out from under us. Turns out, it was the deck separating from the house. We hit the ground, and then the deck, still attached to two supports flipped over on top of us. Luckily, they had metal patio furniture which kept the deck off of us or we’d have been crushed. I busted my lip, broke my nose and a tooth. Friend that owns the house busted her whole face open and had to have reconstructive surgery. Another friend landed on the hot grill we’d just finished with and now has grill marks scarred into his ass. That was the worst of it though. We’re super lucky no one died. Some other friends that didn’t show up would have had their two toddlers with them, which would have been horrific.” — cyberlich

16. I have PSTD from our fishing boat charter that sank

“I was in a smallish fishing boat charter that sank a little less than 12 miles from a Caribbean island in the Atlantic. From the first sign of trouble to looking straight down at the boat slowly sinking beneath the surface was only about 10 minutes time. Trust me when I say that’s an image I’ll never forget — a white sport fisher being swallowed by the dark blue beneath me. When boats sink, they SINK.

Somewhere in the chaos the captain called his friends in the marina before the boat sank, so we waited there just drifting for a while, collecting any floating debris we could hang on to. Fortunately we had life vests otherwise I have no doubt we’d all be dead. 2 hours pass, nobody comes by to pick us up, clouds and rain are more frequent so we lose sight of the island occasionally, and I finally convince everyone to agree to start swimming towards the island — I know the best thing to do is stay together and not move, but the island didn’t seem too too far away, and it was obvious to me that nobody was going to find us at this point. Just as we start slowly moving a helicopter comes and hovers somewhere between us and the island, presumably over the coordinates the captain gave his friends. I swim my ass off towards that thing and in so doing lose sight of the captain and first mate, so now it’s just me and my sister…and then the helicopter leaves. That sucked. But, given the weather there was almost zero chance of them spotting us unless we were right under them.

We decide our best chance at survival is to keep swimming towards the island. The whole time it’s rainy, cloudy, rough seas (there was a small craft advisory — wish we had been told that before leaving the marina!), and much of the time (literally hours) we can’t see the island AT ALL and use the wind as our directional guide… That sensation of not being able to see anything but grey skies and waves with nothing to grasp on to was the toughest part. We did see another helicopter before nightfall when the weather started clearing a bit, but it was way too far away from us. Nightfall is also when we can tell that we actually made progress and were getting closer to the island, but the darkness changes all that as all we could look at were a handful of lights on the island and a bright spot that was probably a resort ~7 or so miles to the north.

Fast forward to maybe 2 or 3am, some 15-16 hours after the boat sank, and we actually get to the island. Of course it’s mostly cliffs, the water is colder (being churned from the deep by the currents hitting the island), so we swim South until we can see water that isn’t white. We get out of the water maybe an hour later and can barely walk. There are some lights in the distance but no way we were gonna get to them in our condition, so we just tried to stay warm under some trees out of the rain. No sleep, just shivering and trying to stay warm.

Finally the sun comes up and we are able to stop shivering. We can walk somewhat better now, so we start drinking from a nearby stream — assuming we’ll get to help before we die from some parasite — and start hiking over the hills. I tossed my lifevest into a tree just in case someone spots it. The hike takes us a few hours over two ridges and through some pretty thick brush. Fortunately there were a few more streams. We finally get to a makeshift farm of sorts and decide to eat some bananas from a small banana grove. That’s when we spot a guy walking to work on the farm. He feeds us some crackers and water and walks up the road to call the police for us…

Based on where we got to land they changed their search and found the captain and first mate in the water shortly thereafter. We all end up in the hospital around the same time, and we finally got to escape the hospital after ~36 hours and several bags of IV fluids. There’s a lot more that happened in that whole 72hour period, but you get the idea.

Funny thing – we went back about 8 months later and tried to get a boat to take us to where we got to land, but they all said it was too dangerous, ha!

It was all over the news for like 2.6 minutes, like everything these days. Even though we all survived, I still have PTSD from that event, which sucks. It’s pretty well triggered when I’m on the water and it’s stormy or in airplanes and it’s turbulent (and I fly all the time sigh), but PTSD be damned, I’m planning on buying a sailboat by the end of the year and sailing around the Caribbean and Central America…and if I can get enough blue water experience, across the Pacific? We’ll see…” — nevernottraveling 

17. The engine inside our plane quit and the plane fell toward the water

“I was in a plane crash when I was 9. It was a small plane, with only my dad and I being the only ones in the plane. The plane had 4 doors and a propeller. That kind of plane.

We were about 1000 feet over the San Francisco Bay, and the engine quit. The plane proceeded to fall, as would be the case. We approached the water, my 9 year old brain coming to grips with the concept of death and such.

We hit the water, and the plane skipped a few times, and water began to flood through the floor. My dad and I got out and sat on the wing of our sinking plane for about 30 minutes and the plane was too sunk to stay sitting on, so we had no choice other than to swim towards shore.

The shoreline was miles away at least, however we had no other options. As we were swimming, (mind you the water was freezing in October), another recreational pilot in a helicopter flew overhead and attempted to drop us life jackets. One was horribly off the mark, but we were able to grab one.

After swimming for half a mile in t-shirts and shorts we came across a mud flat and dragged ourselves onto it.

We were waiting there for a while, and a department of fish and game boat trolled by, looking for illegal hunters. This led to our rescue!

When I got home, I took the best shower of my life.

Now, I’m 19 and still have a residual fear of flying, but I am okay with flying on my own and all that.

What really left an impact on me is the experience of a worst case scenario, and how my mind will usually jump to that in most situations. This anxiety has led to me being incredibly jumpy, and on edge constantly.

PTSD can manifest itself in all walks of life, with even the littlest things resulting in my getting spooked. As a 9 year old without any follow up therapy, coming to terms of this on my own has really shaped my character.

The cause of the crash? Condensation in the fuel bladders of the plane put water in the engine, killing it mid flight. They didn’t successfully recover the plane, but they managed to pull it up out of the water to see if they could determine a cause. The plane was far too damaged to be anything other than scrap at that point.

On a positive note, this accident gave me a new perspective on life, and showed me that life can be taken away just as easily as it is given. Life each day like it could be your last!!— critty15

18. A storm hit unexpectedly and our boat crashed

“I was on a boat that sank on the Mekong river in South East Asia. It was a 2 day trip with an overnight stop as it is too dangerous to be on the river after dark, we stayed in a bar and got extremely drunk as there was a serious tropical storm that knocked the power out in this tiny village on the banks of the river.

The following morning we set off on the final leg of the journey really early the next day, everyone was feeling pretty terrible after drinking way too much so were trying to catch a few hours nap on the boat. Around an hour or 2 into the journey the boat rolled quite heavily to one side and some cups and glasses slid off the tables and fell onto the floor startling most people awake, we picked the stuff up off the floor and went back to sleep.

I’m not really sure how much later but the same thing happened again but even more violently. The boat rolled so heavily it slid from one side to the other and smashed into a table on the now lower side of the boat, at this point I noticed that water had started to come over the side and was getting deeper. Everyone was looking around at each other looking pretty terrified not knowing what to do, the water level was now at probably waist height, I told my gf to get out of the boat and swim for the banks of the river, I had to help her climb out the high side of the boat and onto the roof as the lower side was now pretty much fully submerged. At this point I realised I was stuck between the table I had smashed into and a bench that had fallen on top of my leg, with the water now getting towards shoulder height and the boat sinking pretty rapidly, I took a final breath and went down with the boat, it’s hard to say how long but it probably sank in around a minute, 2 if you were being generous. Luckily as the boat fully sank the benches and tables started to float and move away from each other and I got free without too much trouble. I opened my eyes and all I could see was brown dirty water with some sunlight in the distance, I swam towards it, being careful not to knock my head on anything and knock myself out, trying to swim horizontal until I was sure I was clear from the boat before I could try for the surface. I managed to pop up not too far away from the river bank, I looked around and saw a few of the other passengers being swirled around in the rough current, trying to grab anything that was floating to save themselves, calling out for help. I’m a pretty terrible swimmer so realised trying to help anyone else would probably just end in them dragging me down with them so struggled and eventually made it to the bank, I made it but didn’t have the energy to pull myself out of the water, I half got onto some rocks and waited to catch my breath, some other passengers that made it out of the water ran over to tell me my gf was safe further down stream, the guy driving the boat had jumped in and pulled her out because she was struggling.

To give some background detail this boat was being run by a young family that lived onboard, as it customary in large parts of SE Asia it is considered rude to wear your shoes inside someones house as a consequence we had to remove our shoes when boarding the boat. We were now trying to traverse the rocky banks of the river with no shoes, trying to find other passengers.

Getting back to the main story; the captain of the boat at this stage was screaming at the river, not knowing if his wife and 2 children made it off the boat before it sank (we came across them later on, his wife had somehow managed to make it off with her baby slung over her back and her young son). After a while we had managed to flag down another passing boat, initially they didn’t stop but I think they must have started to see random bits of floating debris from the boat and realised what had happened and came back for us, further down the river we found more passengers that had been rescued by some local fishermen. We tried to account for everyone and quickly worked out that everyone was present apart from one girl, no one had seen her during the scramble to get off the boat. We boarded the boat that we managed to flag down and left for the next nearest large town where we would be able to get in contact with our countries embassies (there was zero phone signal around here and all our phones were either in the river of completely soaked) which was over 6 hours away, the local fishermen promised us they would search for the missing passenger.

Having made it to the next town after a pretty fucking long day by this point we were greeted by the local police who were in plain clothes as it was Songkran and everyone was celebrating by having a huge 3 day water fight. They took some details and told us to come to the station in a few days. We ended up having to sit around for days sorting out loads of stuff as our passports were lost and all the local places that could do anything were closed. Once we got enough documents to allow us to move on and fly to the capital we had to go to our consulate to sort out new travel documents and assist in the matter about the missing passenger with her friends that had made it off the boat (she was from the same country). After a few days the consulate informed us a body had been found and unfortunately it was the missing passenger which was pretty devastating experience to take along with the additional stress everyone was currently going though.

I feel like I’m rambling on now but after a few weeks we luckily managed to get new passports without flying home which we were informed is the standard procedure for my countries passport office, going home to get a full passport wasn’t really an option as we were around 5 weeks into a 7 month trip. Was a pretty fun 6 months after that although did end up in some other pretty dangerous situations, we were also on 2 buses that crashed and a friend of mine that came and met us for a month was involved in a pretty nasty motorbike accident.

Apologies for the piss poor comprehension, I’ve never taken the time to write this experience down before and I’m not the best writer as it is.” — FatCunth

19. We were close to death during a plane crash

“I was in a plane crash in 2013. 3 friends and I had taken a Cessna to interior BC for the long weekend (one friend had their private pilots license).

The day we were heading home it was quite hot, and the plane was, according to investigators, over-loaded and over-fueled for the heat/altitude. Once we reached 2000(?) feet above takeoff we began losing airspeed. The pilot panicked and did some steep turns in an attempt to gain some speed, but it scrubbed nearly all our altitude pretty much instantly. Now at a few hundred feet and descending rapidly the pilot took aim at a farmers field. They managed to level out at around tree-height but we were quickly running out of field. Maybe a hundred or so meters before the end of the field they dropped the plane to the ground, the nose dug in and we flipped end for end.

I ended up walking away essentially unscathed, minor bruising from the seat belt and some small scratches. The pilot had a pretty good cut, and bashed their knee up on the dashboard. The front passenger (my gf) took pretty much the brunt of it all. Her seat ripped off the floor, smashing her against the roof. It shredded the ligaments in one side of her neck, compressed her spine, and concussed her badly. The ligaments were bad, and are still causing issues now 5 years later. But the post concussion issues were far worse. Watching someone you love lose the ability to; read, remember what they had for breakfast or whether or not they HAD breakfast, maintain any semblance of emotional stability, or even do something like play a board game to pass the time (learning and remembering rules was too stressful) was the worst thing I have ever experienced. It took a solid 2 years before things started returning to what I could call normal.” — cactussword

20. We were stuck in wildfires in Tennessee

“Me and a friend were caught in the wildfires in Tennessee last year and had to find a way to get out. I was at a his house, helping him move of all things. The local govt didn’t call for any evacuations at the time, so we just went on with moving stuff in. There was smoke everywhere, but we couldn’t tell where it was coming from or how close it was. We wore face masks to help with breathing outside.

Once daylight was starting to go away, the darkness made it easier to see where the fires were. To our surprise, the fires were all around us going up and down mountains. Once they did a mandatory evacuation, it was already to late for a lot of people. We started down the mountain and the further down we got, the more fire we saw. Trees, bushes and brush were all on fire all around us. Trees and power lines were falling. We got to a place on the road were a tree had blocked the road. We couldn’t back up, because the roads were small and there were people behind us. We were in a big truck, my buddy said he was going to try and push the tree out of the way. After a few tries we were able to push it slightly out of the way which no doubt helped the other people behind us. The inside of the truck was so damn hot. We wanted to open the windows but then the smoke would get in. We were able to make it off the mountain in one piece.

Its still surreal to me that I was that close to death. ” — Decaposaurus Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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