Empires of Crap - Billy Bowles: Teen Prince Of Florida

Imagine if a person tried to live their dreams only to discover that they actually were a charismatic leader, a talented pirate, and a surprisingly good escape artist. That's the story of Willam Augustus Bowles, aspiring King of Florida, who lived one of the coolest lives of the 18th century before his own delusions of grandeur ate him alive ...

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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.

Rodney Cocks Is Followed by Explosions Everywhere He Goes

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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.

Pierre Cota Survives a Car Accident and Plane Crash to Get to a Meeting

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

"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.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

"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 , and went out through a hole in the plane."

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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."

Joseph Samuel Is Executed Three Times and Doesn't Die

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

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.

Baby's Falls Are Broken by the Same Man, a Year Apart

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

As you may know, babies are not generally famed for their survival skills. They may boast the same level of intellect as some seasoned boxers, but they usually have the disadvantage of being much smaller, softer and easier to break. So when 2-year-old David Thomas fell from a fourth-story window in Detroit in 1937, his odds of survival did not look particularly good.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

They'd forgotten the bungee cord, see.

However, in a miraculous stroke of fortune (for the baby anyway), the fall was broken by the head and shoulders of street cleaner Joseph Figlock, who was busy cleaning the alley. Although they were both injured, and Figlock no doubt was briefly terrified that Detroit was under attack from flying alien midgets, they both survived.

But here's where it gets really freaky. A year later, Thomas fell out of the same goddamn window again. This, however, is less "unbelievable coincidence" and more "unbelievable parental negligence."

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

The parents were big believers in letting babies build up their dropping-out-of-windows immunities.

Once again, the baby's life was saved by falling on someone -- and once again, that someone happened to be street cleaner Joseph Figlock, Detroit's literal babe magnet. The baby was unharmed and back in the arms of his no doubt pretty nonplussed mother within minutes. As for Figlock, we're guessing he started carrying an umbrella.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

Made out of a giant condom, 'cause that shit's like baby Kryptonite.

Alec Alder Kicked Death's Ass 14 Times

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

English pensioner Alec Alder survived 14 encounters with death over 70 years, proving that the world is a long action movie franchise and we're all just background characters in his story. This man has found himself in so many dangerous situations over the years that he makes Jack Bauer's Wikipedia biography seem feasible.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)
The Telegraph

And we're not even counting all the times he ran into mountain cougars to stretch the plot.

Although most of his near-death experiences happened during World War II, Alder has been cheating death since before he could shave -- in 1926, at age 7, he fell 15 feet from an elm tree and landed on his stomach. Alder survived unhurt, but this was actually just a trial run for what would happen later: When he was 10, he was badly hit by an oncoming car, but the driver happened to be a doctor and saved his life right there.

Later, in 1939, 20-year-old Alder was drafted into the army, where his entire squadron was wiped out during one of the bloodiest campaigns in World War II ... but not him, because he'd been transferred to a different post just a few weeks earlier.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

They left a seat free for him and filled it with bitter recriminations.

Other wartime incidents include surviving two German bombings on military sites, being accidentally run over by a tank whose engine stalled right before hitting his chest (since it was muddy, his legs were only pushed into the mud) and having a British fighter plane crash land into the house where he was sleeping, missing his head by inches. The roof collapsed and the plane caught fire, but he presumably just rolled over and continued sleeping.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

"I had a late night, Fire. You just need to step back."

After surviving two more close calls miraculous enough to turn anyone religious, Alder did exactly that in 1944, while lying in a hospital bed in India with the broken leg that saved him from being sent to a certain death in Burma. Alder became a Christian, but his new affiliation didn't prevent his ship from being caught in a ferocious storm in Gibraltar when he was on his way back to Britain in 1945. He survived again, only to be nearly crushed to death by trucks two times, in 1947 and 1997.

In 1977, he survived a head-on car collision -- but clearly, death was half-assing it at this point. Alder finally died from a heart attack in 2008. After all this time, he probably figured, "Eh, might as well let 'em win one."

Bill Morgan Comes Back from the Dead to Win the Lottery ... Twice

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

In 1998, Aussie Bill Morgan was struck by both a massive heart attack and a massive truck at the same time, and died. For 14 minutes, anyway. That's how long it took Morgan to come back to life after being clinically dead -- only to fall right into a seemingly irreversible coma, at which point his family was advised to turn off life support.

The 6 Most Nonchalant Ways People Dodged Death (Repeatedly)

"We need to vacuum this place, and that's the only power supply."

But his family knew him better, and 12 days later Morgan once again emerged from a deathlike state, with all his faculties intact. And here's where this particular multiple-survival story takes one more twist:

Exactly one year after his truck accident, Morgan proposed to the woman he started dating after having died and all, and she said yes. To celebrate his good fortune on the getting married/being immortal front, he bought a scratch card and won himself a car worth $17,000. Two weeks later, a TV station doing a story on his already impressive life wanted to shoot a clip re-enacting him scratching off his winning ticket.


Out of his pocket, no less, because the media is cheapass.

However, the re-enactment turned out to be far more accurate than anyone expected when Morgan bought another card, rubbed it and won $170,000 right in front of the TV crew.

Yeah, that guy obviously used his time being dead to make a deal with Satan.


For us, that moment of realization would have been accompanied by a chorus of middle fingers.

Find more from Matteo here and on Twitter. Matt can be found arguing with himself at YesNoFlow or tweeting @yesnoflow.

For more people who shirked off death, check out 7 Historical Figures Who Were Absurdly Hard To Kill. Or discover the 6 People Who Died In Order To Prove A (Retarded) Point.

And stop by LinkSTORM because we hear it makes you immortal.

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