5 People Who Survived Certain Death (Using Cartoon Physics)

#2. A Paraglider Turned into a Human Popsicle

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It's common knowledge that Australia is the continental equivalent of a serial killer, but did you know that even the air above it is criminally insane? We're talking thunderstorms so dark and intense, they make Morrissey look like a sunny afternoon picnic.

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"Typhoon"? You mean "barbecue weather"?

We're not sure if 35-year-old paraglider Ewa Wisnerska deliberately chose to fistfight one of said hellstorms or simply failed to notice the giant, ominous cloud as she flew directly underneath it, but the result was a 67-foot-per-second whirl up God's very own twisty straw that ended at a dizzying height of 32,000 feet in just 15 minutes.

That's around the same altitude your average airliner cruises at, so you can imagine that it's not exactly the friendliest of places for a human body to be -- for example, at that altitude, Wisnerska was pelted with hail the size of oranges. At the pinnacle of her flight, the darkness was nearly complete, and the temperature dropped to an extremity-shattering minus 58 degrees -- so cold that she went full Encino Man. Wisnerska closed her eyes, ready to die, and when she next opened them, she was 40 miles away from where her journey had started.

Luca Galuzzi
She was also over a mile above the point at which the atmosphere can support life, affectionately known as "the death zone."

Wisnerska, awake but still totally frozen, had no choice but to let gravity do its thing until she finally touched down, alive, presumably to begin a series of increasingly obnoxious adventures with Pauly Shore. Godfrey Wenness, the organizer of the paragliding world championships, was completely baffled -- the previous altitude record was "just" 24,000 feet. "There's no oxygen," he said. "She could have suffered brain damage. But she came to at a height of 6,900 meters with ice all over her body and slowly descended herself." No word on whether they loaded her onto a furniture dolly and wheeled her next to a campfire to defrost, but we're going to assume so.

#1. A Man Turned into a Human Balloon

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As far as we know, trucker Steven McCormack possesses the dubious honor of being the only person in history to literally inflate himself like a beach ball and live to tell the tale. No, it wasn't some elaborate sex game gone wrong (inflatorotica?), but just a matter of an ass cheek being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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And we have the welts to prove how badly that can go.

McCormack was doing a bit of maintenance between his truck and its trailer when he slipped and fell ass-first onto one of the brass valves that connect the brakes to the compressed air supply. The nozzle pierced his buttock and shot air into his body at an intense 100 pounds per square inch. So much air pumped into him so quickly that he ballooned up to twice his original size, which you might recognize as the most unbelievable part of Big Trouble in Little China (and yes, we're counting Kurt Russell's unbelievably majestic mullet).

The pressure separated muscle from fat, and even the space around McCormack's lungs was pumped full of air, compressing his heart and damn near killing him in the process. His co-workers managed to cut the air supply and keep him away from sharp objects while they waited nearly an hour for emergency personnel to arrive, presumably because the dispatcher was too busy calling bullshit to actually send someone out.

Sadly, it was just air and not helium, so paramedics were unable to simply tie McCormack to the bumper of the ambulance and lead him to the hospital like a living Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Once at the hospital, doctors found it impossible to insert an IV because the immense pressure inside McCormack's body shot the needle right back out. And the comedy gods weren't quite done smiling down on ol' Steve just yet, because it turns out the only way to release that much air from inside a human body is -- you guessed it -- the natural way.

Somewhere, a seismologist is absolutely baffled.

It took three days, by the way. We're picturing a hospital draped in biohazard tape, with its roof being literally lifted from the building by each epic, Earth-shattering fart.

When Jamie isn't bouncing into the arms of passing strangers, he likes to blog over at Psycholocrazy. If you enjoyed his words, then come and check out why he thinks being beautiful sucks and get his free e-book too!

Related Reading: Speaking of unbelievable survival this runner survived a 130 mile marathon through the Sahara with no food or water. Sometimes death-defying feats are less impressive than they seem: 96% of plane crash victims survive. On the other hand, plenty of survivable movie injuries would kill your ass in real life.

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