7 Disasters Everyone Survived (That a Highlander Wouldn't)
Human beings are fleshy, fragile creatures, so much so that a fall in the shower is sometimes enough to boot us out of this plane of existence. However, occasionally fate intervenes and protects us from disasters that should, by all laws of nature, have reduced us to gritty red dust.
We're talking about the kinds of accidents that typically occur at the beginning of a Final Destination movie, so we can only imagine the survivors of the following incidents were forever looking over their shoulders to see if the relentless specter of death was trying to sneak up on them to finish the job:
An Airplane Loses a Wing, Spins Into a Field and Explodes, Everyone Walks Away
It was a cold winter day in Armenia, and Belavia Flight 1834 was about to embark on a routine flight to Belarus with 18 passengers and three crew (note that 21 is the maximum number of people that would ever want to go to Belarus at the same time). Unfortunately, immediately upon takeoff, the plane banked sharply to the left and the left wing clipped the runway, causing the plane to crash to the ground and start rolling to the right. The right-hand wing broke off, and leaking fuel triggered a fire.
The plane eventually crashed upside down and skidded on its roof all the way through a field, across another runway, and finally came to a stop in a different field.
Then it exploded.
Which is typically the point where the paramedics decide there's no big hurry after all and knock off for lunch.
The only way this accident could have been worse is if the Earth had opened up and swallowed the plane with a belch of molten fire. But incredibly, every single person on board made it out alive.
"Eat shit, Denzel Washington."
It probably helped that all of the passengers were wearing their seat belts. After Flight 1834 went spiraling back to the Earth and wound up on its back, the passengers simply unbuckled themselves and climbed down to the emergency exit, dragging the pilot and co-pilot to safety before the fuselage detonated like a sausage in a microwave.
Not only did every single passenger walk away from the explosion in slow motion like 21 David Carusos, but only four people were hospitalized, because apparently they were flying to a meeting of the Belarus chapter of the Uncanny X-Men.
The City of Louisville Explodes, Everything Is Fine
In the early hours of Friday the 13th of February, 1981 (because fate has a sense of humor), two nurses were carpooling to work in Louisville, Kentucky, when they came to a railroad underpass and accidentally blew up half the city, which is a sentence that demands a fair bit of explanation.
You see, on the previous day, the nearby Ralston-Purina plant unknowingly suffered a chemical leak, spilling gallons of explosively volatile hexane into the sewage system. Over the course of the night, the chemical started evaporating into a gas, and manholes throughout the city began secreting a fine explosive mist. When the two nurses drove through an invisible cloud of hexane beneath the overpass, a spark from their car was all that was needed to detonate the city like a pair of Batman villains.
Two miles of sewer lines went off so spectacularly that witnesses thought the city was being attacked by bombers. Entire sections of Louisville were reduced to giant, smoking craters.
"That street had only three days until repavement."
When the dust settled, $30 million of damage had been done to the city. Yet somehow, exactly zero people were killed. The sewer lines ran mostly under the streets, so although the local transit authority suddenly had a major pothole problem, it was luckily only streets, not houses, that wound up being leveled by the accidental wave of destruction.
Creating history's only instance where having a lift kit on your truck was actually a good use of funds.
And due to the fact that it was so early in the morning, the streets had been virtually empty except for the two nurses, who somehow managed to cheat death despite triggering the explosion and having their car flipped through the air at ground zero. Though it's probably also lucky that nobody was sitting on a toilet, ferreting out a poop at the exact moment of detonation.
"The Murtaughs were on vacation."
Two Boston Trains Collide Head-On, Make Everyone Late
The engineers aboard the Amtrak sleeper train Night Owl were running behind schedule coming into Boston on the morning of December 12, 1990. Wanting to avoid the cloud of grating obscenities likely to erupt from a car full of angry Bostonians waking up to discover they were late for a day of drunk sports-watching, they cranked the Night Owl up past the maximum speed limit, realizing too late that they were traveling entirely too fast to safely navigate an upcoming curve at Back Bay station.
At that exact moment, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority commuter train #906 was cruising into the station on the adjacent track. Passengers in the rear of #906 had about a nanosecond to register the fact that a derailed, speeding Amtrak train was flying through the air directly toward them. To get an accurate picture of what happened next, smash two Twinkies together lengthwise, and then set them on fire.
After you've already digested them.
Both trains were thrown into the air and collided with the ceiling of the tunnel so hard that the street above buckled upward like the end of Ghostbusters. The crash spilled 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel, which burst into flames upon coming into contact with the sparking wreckage.
All they needed after that was a meteor strike to complete the hat trick.
Even though nearly 1,100 people were crammed into the trains when they collided, every one of them survived both the hellacious impact and the resulting fire. Not only that, but only around 264 of the passengers -- roughly a quarter of the people trapped in the thunderous crash -- were even injured. They were probably all just irritated that this "catastrophe" bullshit was making them even more late.
After the dust settled, it was revealed that the chief engineer of the Amtrak train, Willis Copeland, had been responsible for another head-on train collision in New York six years earlier, which everyone presumably took as a sign that Copeland needed to stop driving trains immediately.
A Plane Pancakes Into a Ditch and Explodes, Inconveniencing Its Passengers
Even if you're terrified of flying, most people agree that, once the wheels have touched the ground, the danger is over. In actuality, most crashes occur during either takeoff or landing, which is what the passengers aboard Air France Flight 358 discovered in in August 2005, when their plane touched down in a perfect landing, only to spectacularly explode for no apparent reason.
Probably the first indication that something was amiss was the fact that the plane didn't stop once it reached the end of the runway. In torrential rain and low visibility, the pilots had overshot the landing, the wet conditions having converted the runway into a makeshift slip-and-slide. As the plane slid uncontrollably off the runway and into a ditch, one of the doors flew open, exposing the terrified passengers to the elements before the aircraft finally came to a stop, at which point everything exploded.
At this point we're beginning to suspect that reality plays by Michael Bay's rules after all.
Luckily, the cabin crew happened to be overstaffed that day, so there were more than enough trained personnel to evacuate the aircraft before everyone wound up like Helena Bonham Carter at the end of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Most of us know the frustration of the tedious length of time it takes for people to get the hell off an international flight, so picture that, and add a voracious fireball ripping through the cabin, and you'll get an idea of what these people were experiencing.
Just when you thought that guy trying to wrestle a guitar out of overhead storage couldn't get more obnoxious.
Even though the plane looked like it had been swatted out of the sky by an angry giant, everyone on board escaped with minor injuries, and were presumably greeted with a polite apology by Canada for being unable to stop the laws of physics.
A Train Crashes Through the Track Into the Station's Basement, Injuring No One
On January 15th, 1953, engineers on the Boston to Washington D.C. Federal Express train happened to notice that the train's brakes were behaving peculiarly, which is a phrase here meaning "they didn't seem to be working at all." This was bad news for the roughly 400 people on board, because the train was rapidly approaching both the end of the line and a gritty reimagining of the climax to Back to the Future Part III.
Passengers, many of whom were en route to see the inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower, began to express concern when they realized they were still travelling at maximum speed well past the point at which they should have begun to slow down on approach to the final station. Their fears were confirmed when the train smashed through the pitiful barrier at the end of the line, at which point they had only 100 feet of track left before a steel wall would introduce them to eternity.
Of course, it being the '50s, most passengers were confident in their ability to survive via the duck-and-cover method.
However, that last section of track between the shattered barrier and the steel wall of ultimate destruction wasn't built to handle 215 tons of locomotive, because why in the hell should it have been. Unable to bear the weight, the track gave way, dropping the train into a baggage handling room in the station's basement, which was thankfully free of personal belongings-destroying human beings at the time. Everyone on board walked away with minor injuries, narrowly averting a disaster that might have done for trains what the Hindenburg did for the zeppelin, or what Johnny Depp did to Westerns.
"This is exactly like the theatrical release of The Lone Ranger in every detail!"
The Plane That Landed Safely After Its Wing Exploded Mid-Flight
The 153 people on board Pan Am Flight 843 out of San Francisco on June 28, 1965 were anticipating a long flight full of cocktails and sexism when the plane suddenly transformed into a giant fireball like the curse of a bitter warlock.
Marking the first and last time a family going cross-country, crammed in a '60s station wagon, had no regrets.
Mere moments after becoming airborne, the passengers heard a muffled explosion, followed by a torrent of flames, as a good portion of one of the wings (arguably the most important part of any flying machine) blew off and flew away. One of them happened to have a camera handy and realized the importance of snapping as many pictures as possible to document what was undoubtedly shaping up to be their final moments on Earth.
"Hmm, the 'Repent Sins' light just came on ..."
It turned out that a turbine rotor in one of the engines had utterly disintegrated, causing an explosion in the fuel tank that sheared 25 feet of the right wing completely off the aircraft.
Helping to eliminate places for further problems to develop, if you're one of those glass-half-full types.
As passengers watched the blackened remains of the wing billow fire and smoke over urban California, a witness reported that the captain announced over the intercom: "We've had some minor trouble. ... No, I shouldn't say minor." After the captain corrected himself, acknowledging the mortal severity of the situation, the passengers all shared a laugh. Either they were using humor to cope with the reality of their almost certain impending death, or drink service in the 1960s began before you even boarded the plane.
Luckily, it turned out there was just enough stump of a wing remaining to maintain lift until the plane was able to make an emergency landing at Travis Air Force Base, where every single passenger and crew member stepped calmly off, having suffered nothing more than an inconvenience, and having a great story to throw at their grandchildren when they start bitching about how the free wireless Internet went out in the middle of their last flight.
The 130-Car Pileup That Killed No One
In September 2013, England's notorious Jack-the-Ripper-concealing fog was the cause of a highway pileup involving an astonishing 130 vehicles -- the end result looking like a bunch of hot wheels carelessly tossed into the bottom of some kid's backpack.
"Sorry, my fault; texting."
The pileup was triggered like most pileups are, we suppose -- at some point in the early morning, someone drove through a thick bank of fog over the Sheppey Crossing, a bridge linking the Isle of Sheppey with Kent, and blindly collided with someone else attempting to do the same. Then someone crashed into those two cars, and then someone else crashed into the third car, and pretty soon everyone's day was ruined.
Now, usually, even in the worst cases, these kinds of pileups will eventually end as the people driving towards the accident begin to notice the fact that a bunch of cars are apparently parked at weird angles in the middle of the interstate and everyone is swearing at each other. However, the fog was so dense that the early-morning commuters continued to drive face-first into stationary vehicles until the highway looked like Winston Churchill's arteries after a traditional British meal.
"Sounds like it too."
In what Kent Police's Assistant Chief Constable Rob Price referred to as a "miracle," nobody was killed in the 130-car cataclysm, although eight people were seriously injured. When you see detailed photos of the crash, the Chief's choice of words actually seems like an understatement.
"Are you alive in there?"
"Yes, we're alive ..."
We still aren't entirely sure how not one human life was lost in the meat grinder of twisted wreckage, but authorities point the finger partially to the fact that there was a lower than average number of heavy trucks involved, which in multicar pileups like these tend to behave like gigantic garbage smashers and/or the goddamned Juggernaut. It wasn't all good fortune, though, as hundreds of people presumably had to walk to work.
The past year has been a tough one for me (Douglas A. McDonnell) because death didn't drop the ball when it came for my mother. Just want to thank all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and most of all dad for all you have done for me. I love you guys!
For more ridiculous survival stories, check out 4 Things You Can Only Learn by Surviving an Earthquake and 6 Soldiers Who Survived Shit That Would Kill a Terminator.
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