5 People Who Straight Up Survived The Unsurvivable

The real world is set up like one of those stupidly elaborate traps from the Saw movies: seriously vicious, kinda dumb, and built entirely to test one's will to live. But the Saw movies did have survivors (including, somehow, the franchise itself). Even in the face of certain death, some people get by through sheer willpower, indomitable spirit, and possibly God just owing them one. These people told Death exactly where to stick it, and lived to tell the tale.

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5
Joan Murray's Parachute Failed, But She Was Saved By ... A Nest Of Fire Ants?

In September of 1999, Joan Murray's parachute failed to open. Her reserve chute opened 700 feet from the ground, and if that doesn't sound like enough distance to slow from terminal velocity and land safely, that's because it's not. The fall shattered the entire right side of her body, and as she lay there immobilized, she discovered something else: She'd landed on a mound of fire ants. More than 250,000 of them.

HonBK1988/iStockThen, everything changed when the fire ants attacked.

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Although it must have seemed like God had forsaken her at the time, the 200-plus fire ant stings actually saved her life. According to her doctors, the repeated stinging shocked her heart and stimulated her nerves, keeping her pulse up and her organs functioning long enough to be transferred to the hospital, where she fell into a two-week coma but eventually made a full recovery. Also, that is basically Catwoman's origin story in Batman Returns, so what's "fantastically, stupidly impossible" now, movie critics?

4
Rodney Fox Fought Off A Shark With His Guts Hanging Out

On December 8, 1963, Rodney Fox was swimming off Australia's Aldinga Beach while participating in a tuna spearfishing competition, otherwise known in that country as "basically any afternoon." Because you know what article you're reading, you will not be surprised to learn that a great white shark, attracted by the chum in the water, swam up and bit into Fox's torso like he was a Twinkie.

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We'll jump ahead a bit: After the doctors cut off his wetsuit at the hospital, they discovered that the suit was the only thing keeping a good chunk of Fox's insides from being outside. All of his ribs on his left side were broken, his lung was punctured, and the main artery from his heart to his stomach had been exposed.

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Thankfully, Fox didn't know that at the time of the attack, so he figured he'd simply poke the shark in the eye and swim away. That seemed to work for a minute, until the shark figured out that a hand is also meat. It took over 90 stitches to repair the damage from that wound. Rapidly running out of ideas, Fox grabbed the shark from behind and held on, reasoning that if he was one with the shark, maybe it wouldn't bite him quite so much. After a few minutes, he realized he'd been underwater for quite some time, and maybe should try to get some air.

After reaching the surface, Fox peered into the water below and saw "this great big shark coming up with its mouth wide open." Then two miraculous things happened. First, the shark went for the fish float attached to Fox's dive belt instead of his delicious soft parts. Second, the line to his belt had been mostly severed by the earlier bite, and thus snapped when the shark snagged his floatie and dived. A passing crew rescued Fox, who later left the hospital with several hundred stitches but no lasting damage. He then went on to swear a lifelong vendetta against marine predators. Or wait, no, he founded an organization to research and protect sharks, because he's a much better person than we are.

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3
A Toddler Froze to Death ... And Then Just Came Back To Life

By all rights, Gardell Martin's story should have no business being on a comedy website. In winter 2015, the 22-month-old had been playing outside with his brothers on his family's five-acre Pennsylvania farm when they lost track of him. A frantic search turned up the body of little Gardell, submerged in freezing water. No longer breathing. Paramedics performed CPR all the way to the hospital, but by the time they reached Dr. Frank Maffei, things weren't looking good. The boy's temperature had dropped to 77 degrees, and over an hour of CPR had failed to restart his heart.

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At that point, even the most heroic medical professionals would bow their heads and call this one, but Maffei ordered his team not to stop unless the boy was still unresponsive with a body temperature of 90 degrees and a blood pH level of 6.5. We don't know what that means, but according to Maffei, it was an absurd order; he just had a feeling that "Gardell [was] still in there." The boy's pH level reached the threshold, but he still showed no signs of life. However, his body temperature was only 83 degrees, so the team prepared to hook him up to a machine that would warm and transfuse his entire bloodstream. You know they only bring out that sci-fi monstrosity as a last resort, so they decided to check for a pulse one more time first. And he had one.

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Gardell had been dead for an hour and 41 minutes, but not only was he now alive, but he was also totally fine. Apparently, the extreme cold preserved both his brain cells and organs, so he was up and playing on the farm again within a week. This time under much tighter supervision. Sure, he might be a White Walker now, but we'll deal with that when it comes to it.

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2
Ewa Wisnierska Flew Through A Thunderstorm Without A Plane

In 2007, German paragliding champion Ewa Wisnierska was in Australia, training for an upcoming competition. As happens when one is flitting through the sky on updrafts, Ewa was pulled into the sky by an updraft. But this one was a bit stronger than usual, and before she knew it, Winsnierska was rising at a rate of 65 feet per second. She soon passed out from lack of oxygen, and when she woke up half an hour later, she was six miles above the Earth. That's cruising altitude for airplanes.

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Then she heard thunder.

As she was being thrown around like a soggy post-birthday balloon and pelted with hail the size of oranges, all she could do was hang on and hope for the best. Finally, after about an hour in a storm that pilots wouldn't even fly a 747 through, she managed to land safely. According to doctors, the only reason she survived was that she passed out, which put her in a less oxygen-needy state.

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Of course, there's always an upside: Ewa would later learn she broke the record for the highest altitude survived by a paraglider. Hopefully somebody threw her a tiny party.

1
Willie Francis Survived The Electric Chair

Willie Francis had everything going against him. In 1945, the 16-year-old's boss had been murdered, and he was the prime suspect. Though Francis pleaded not guilty, his court-appointed defense attorneys didn't even try to defend him. After all, Francis was unquestionably guilty of another crime: being black in Louisiana in 1946. It didn't take long for an all-white jury to convict Francis and sentence him to death.

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Though he was zapped with enough electricity to make the 300-pound electric chair move, Francis survived long enough for the machine to fail. While the fault was being investigated (it turned out drunken guards had set up the machine improperly), some actual lawyers heard about Francis's case and argued that this whole thing was, legally speaking, totally messed up.

The case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court ... but they upheld the ruling, and Francis was successfully executed the next year.

Sorry, we lied earlier about there always being an upside.

You may not be a miracle-worker, but you can at least have a survival kit on hand.

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For more, check out 5 People Who Survived Completely Unsurvivable Situations and 7 Deadly Things You Won't Believe Most People Survive.

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