How many times have you almost died? If your answer is "Somewhere between two and 14 times," then you're probably on this list.
We're not sure if that makes the people below incredibly lucky or unlucky. All we know is that they have better stories to tell at parties than we do.
It always sucks when your job follows you when you're on vacation, especially when said job involves people trying to blow you to shit. That's what keeps happening to Australian army Captain Rodney Cocks, who hears explosions coming his way about as often as he hears bad puns about his name.
We're guessing he doesn't Google himself very often.
In October 2002, Cocks was on the island of Bali, Indonesia, on a break from his peacekeeping duty in East Timor. One night, as Cocks and some friends left a nightclub and headed to a nearby cafe to check their e-mail, Cocks heard a loud noise coming from behind him. He turned around and saw a van full of explosives go off right in front of the club he'd just left. Despite being covered in glass and injured (he was only 50 yards from the explosion, wearing shorts and flip-flops), Cocks got up and ran inside what was left of the club to help other people.
Most of whom were busy taking blurry cellphone pictures of the tragedy.
Rather than staying the hell away from anything involving bombs from then on out, which is what anyone who isn't a freaking action hero would do, Cocks actually signed up to deal with them on a daily basis. After wrapping up his tour in East Timor, he toyed with the idea of becoming a lawyer but decided that disabling landmines in Iraq sounded much more badass. And so, less than a year after the Bali incident, Cocks would find himself standing a few yards from yet another giant explosion -- not while dealing with landmines, but just sitting in a perfectly safe office.
In August 2003, Cocks was sitting at his desk at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, then got up and went to the other room for a second (maybe he had to reset his router). Moments later, this happened:
The router never stood a chance.
Had Cocks remained at his desk, he would have been killed by the massive truck bomb that exploded right outside his window. When Cocks ran back to where his office used to be and saw the remains of the suicide bomber lying right in front of him, he says his first thought was "Yeah, you didn't get me this time, either." We're guessing this is the part they'll replace with "Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker" when Bruce Willis buys his life story and recycles it into Die Hard 6 and 7.
Of all the excuses for being late for a meeting, you'd think "My car was totaled, and then my freaking plane crashed" would be good enough for anyone. But that just didn't cut it for French engineer Pierre Cota, who either was extremely devoted to punctuality or had the least understanding bosses ever.
"Oh, you 'totaled your car,' huh? Your 'plane crashed,' eh? Jenkins fell over a dog, and he was on time."
On January 20, 1992, Cota was driving to the airport in Lyon, France, when he lost control of his vehicle and was involved in a horrific pileup. Cota's car was totaled, but he escaped the accident without consequence -- except missing his damn flight, that is. Cota was still determined to get to Strasbourg in time for a meeting, so he booked a later flight and somehow made his way to the airport, despite no longer owning a working car.
"Make sure you get the lead out of my chest, I've got to make it through security."
As it turns out, the plane Cota boarded happened to be Air Inter Flight 148 -- the one that crashed into a mountain in Strasbourg because of a dumbly designed display screen. The crashed killed 87 passengers; Pierre Cota was one of nine who made it. Since Cota had booked his flight at the last minute, his seat was chosen from one of the last available in the tail of the plane, which saved his (possibly invulnerable anyway) ass. Despite the strength of the impact and the flames surrounding him, Cota "grabbed the boy next to [him], and went out through a hole in the plane."
Of course, at this point it was more hole than plane.
But hey, at least he was in Strasbourg, finally. Cota's only injury after two deadly accidents? A nosebleed, apparently. Somewhere, a guy who looks like Samuel L. Jackson rose dramatically from his wheelchair and said, "I found him."
On the morning of September 26, 1803, a crowd of people gathered on a street in Parramatta, Australia, to watch two criminals being hanged to death, which was like the 19th century equivalent of a reality show (but somehow more tasteful). This was a special occasion, though: Despite there being only two criminals, the audience actually got to witness four hangings ... resulting in one death.
In modern terms, that's like four trashy make-out scenes, but only one of Snooki puking.
One of the sentenced criminals turned out to be so hard to kill that the Australian justice system eventually gave up and let him live. The man was Joseph Samuel, an English criminal who'd been banished to the land of kangaroos in 1801. In 1802, Samuel was involved in the death of a constable and sentenced to be hanged from the neck until dead. This last part would prove trickier than they thought.
Samuel's own request to be hanged until he felt a bit ill was quickly shot down.
Unfortunately for Samuel and the other guy, hanging technology wasn't so advanced at this point: Instead of automatically snapping their necks by letting them fall through a trapdoor while hanging from the noose, the executioner simply made the convicts stand on a cart and then pushed the cart away, leaving them to asphyxiate over several minutes. That's exactly what happened to the first criminal, but when Samuel's turn came, the rope snapped and he fell down, only spraining his ankle. And then the exact same thing happened again. And again.
Let's all take a moment to be grateful that "rope" is no longer a key tool of law enforcement.
All three hanging attempts were made with different ropes, obviously, as the other criminal continued being slowly asphyxiated by one exactly like that. Meanwhile, the crowd started getting restless: Clearly, God didn't want this man dead. We're not joking about that -- unsure of how to proceed (and possibly running out of ropes), the executioner called the governor, who, upon reviewing the situation, in fact decided that God's will truly was for Joseph Samuel to be alive.
They still threw him back in jail, though, because it's not like God posted his bail or anything.