The human body is something we’ve come to understand pretty well thanks to modern science. Through research, trial-and-error, and advances in how we capture images of what’s under our skin, we know pretty much everything there is to know about the body. But, every now and then, medical scientists and doctors get hit with a baffling injury that completely defies everything they thought they knew about the body. This includes
- Objects piercing through the skull,
- Being frozen for hours,
- Being underwater for a long time.
Sure, we have shock magicians like David Blaine and Criss Angel sticking metal needles through their arms and burying themselves alive, but they’re masters of illusion and showmanship. Sometimes, regular, everyday folks like you and me get involved in gruesome accidents and survive the most unlikely of injuries.
Luckily for us, a lot of these near-fatal injuries have been captured for posterity. Here are some of the most unbelievable (and real) ones that we know of:
1. Ron Hunt — Drill to the head: A man from Truckee, California survived a freak accident, earning him the nickname of Miracle Man. Ron Hunt was standing on a ladder drilling into a surface when he fell. He dropped the drill first, and landed on top of it, face first. The 18-inch rod entered his skull through the eye socket and exited behind his right ear. Luckily for Hunt, the drill didn’t pierce his brain and he didn’t suffer any brain damage, just a lot of pain.
2. Paul Lewis — 10,000 ft fall: During a skydiving trip gone horribly wrong, a 40-year-old man from England jumped from a plane and fell on to the roof of a hangar. Miraculously, firefighters rescued him in one piece and he was treated for nothing but a few head and neck injuries.
3. Liu Cheong — Arrow to the eye: Two schoolboys in China were practicing their archery skills when one of them accidentally shot his friend. The 16-inch arrow went straight through the head of 11-year-old Liu Cheong. The arrow entered through his eye socket and was stopped from piercing his head by the back of his skull. Doctors were able to remove the arrow without causing any damage to the optic nerves or the brain.
4. Rachel Bailey — Internally decapitated: A woman from Arizona sustained a rare injury during a car crash. Her skull was torn from her spine, an injury that usually means instant death. Not only did she survive having her head detach itself from her body, she also survived becoming paralyzed for the rest of her life.
5. Julia Popova — Stabbed in the neck: When these images surfaced online, no one was ready to believe they were real. Julia, 22, was robbed on her way home. After the disturbing experience with the robber, she went home, unaware that she had a knife sticking out of her neck. After the shock subsided, the pain kicked in, so she was rushed to the nearest hospital. According to the doctors who treated Julia, the knife missed her spinal cord and all major arteries.
6. Anatoli Petrovich — Face hit by a particle beam: Also known as the “Never Mind Botox” man, this man’s injury is the most unique one in the list. 19 years ago, Petrovich stuck his head into the Synchrotron U-70 particle accelerator located at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino, Russia. He survived the blast, but half of his face no longer ages or gets wrinkly.
7. Phineas Gage — Iron rod through the head: Gage was a railroad construction worker who survived a large iron rod going through his head. He survived, but the rod destroyed most of his frontal lobe and changed his personality forever. His case, while tragic in the long run due to the long-term effects of the injury, helped scientists understand the role that the frontal lobe plays in human psychology.
8. Jean Hilliard — Frozen for 6 hours: Jean was driving down a road in northwestern Minnesota when she crashed in the middle of nowhere. Her broken car was useless in the sub-zero temperatures, so she walked to a friend’s house. She walked for two miles before collapsing, and spent six hours exposed to the cold without proper insulation. She was frozen solid, to the point that doctors couldn’t pierce her skin or register her temperature in a thermometer. She survived with nothing but frostbite.
9. Rotated heart: An unnamed Italian man was taken to the hospital where they determined he had sustained chest trauma. When they were unable to find his heartbeat in the proper place, doctors took X-rays and a CT scan of the man’s chest and saw that his heart had completely moved to the right side of his body.
10. Truman Duncan — Cut in half by train: Duncan was a railroad switchman who fell off a moving train car in Texas. The train drove over him, slicing off his legs, pelvis and kidney. Not only did he survive the whole ordeal, after he was cut in half by the train, Duncan was able to call 911 before he passed out.
11. Shannon Malloy — Dislocated skull: Here’s another case of internal decapitation. A woman from Nebraska was hit from behind while she was driving, forcing her head to hit the dashboard of her car. Shannon described the experience during an interview with the Denver Channel, saying: “I remember the impact and then I had no control over my head.” Doctors said that the skull became detached from her spine, and that it took five screws, metal rods and a circular bar to re-attach her head.
12. Oluchi Nwaubani — Underwater for 20 minutes: A 2-year-old girl from London survived spending almost 20 minutes at the bottom of a pool. This is three times longer than what the brain can survive without being severely damaged. Doctors warned Oluchi’s parents that she would never walk or talk again, but the little girl has made a full recovery since the accident.
13. Carlos Rodriguez — Man with half a head: Carlos lost a portion of his brain and skulls during a car crash. He flew through his car’s windshield and hit the pavement head first, resulting in the massive loss of tissue. Doctor were forced to cut off the injured tissue, bone and brain to help him survive.
14. Yasser Lopez — Fishing spear through the head: During a fishing trip in Miami, Florida, 16-year-old Yasser and his friends were getting ready to catch some fish. While the boys were preparing their ammunition, one of the spear guns went off, piercing Yasser through the eye socket. The 3-foot-long spear went through his skull, and miraculously missed all of the main blood cells.
15. Forthman Murff — Chainsaw through the neck: While he was cutting down some trees, Murff was hit by a large branch and fell into a ditch. He broke his left leg and foot, was knocked unconscious for a bit and when he woke up, it was to his own chainsaw cutting through his neck. The saw tore through his windpipe, esophagus and jugular veins, leaving his head hanging by the spinal cord. Murff drove himself to a neighbor’s house, and was taken to a hospital where they reattached his head. He lived a long life after the accident, and passed away in 2003 at the age of 93.
16. 12 nails to the head: An unidentified 33-year-old man from Oregon was rushed to the hospital after complaining about severe headaches. There, doctor found 12 nails embedded inside his skulls, all of which he had shot into his head in during a suicide attempt. The nails missed all the major arteries, and after some psychiatric counseling, the man was released from the hospital.