These true survival stories will leave you in awe of the incredible human spirit and sheer will to survive whatever the odds.
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In this article:
- Ricky Megee
- Joe Simpson and Simon Yates
- Aron Ralston
- Mauro Prosperi
- Douglas Mawson
- Marina Chapman
- Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight
- Andes Plane Crash Survivors
- Sully Sullenberger and the Crew and Passengers of U.S. Airways Flight 1549
- The Chilean Miners
True Survival Stories: Tales of Surviving the Impossible
1. Ricky Megee
We’ve seen survival movies you wouldn’t think possible in real life until you come across well-documented true survival stories from random people.
In 2006, workers in a cattle station in one of the most remote areas of Australia came upon a man named Ricky Megee. He claimed to have been stranded in the Australian outback for 70 days.
Megee said the last thing he remembered was his car breaking down during his cross-country drive. There is some speculation that he was the victim of a violent attack during which he was possibly drugged. When he gained consciousness, he realized his demise.
For over two months, Megee survived on only frogs, snakes, lizards, and the water he found in a nearby dam. He lost over half his body weight upon rescue.
Check out the Geo TV video below via AwKahoot to learn more about Ricky Megee’s survival story:
2. Joe Simpson and Simon Yates
Together with Joe Simpson, Simon Yates climbed Siula Grande in 1985, via the hitherto unclimbed west face. On the descent, Simpson fell through a cornice, breaking his right leg and heel.
To continue descending, Yates then used ropes to lower Simpson down the mountain in stages. While descending in the night in bad weather, Yates lowered Simpson over an unseen cliff edge.
This meant that he was hanging over a deep crevasse with only Simpson’s hold on the rope to prevent him falling. To avoid falling off the mountain himself, Yates cut the rope.
Simpson thus fell approximately 50 feet into the crevasse. He survived the fall, unbeknownst to Yates, who assumed he died.
Simpson managed to climb out of the crevasse and reached base camp four days later. Some mountaineers were very critical of Yates’ decision to cut the rope on his partner.
Yates argued that he could not rely upon an army of people to help since they were far on the mountain flank with a raging storm in progress.
Despite this decision, his rescue attempt contributed significantly to saving Simpson’s life. Simpson has always vehemently defended Yates, saying he would have done it himself given the same position. (via Wikipedia)
Watch Today’s interviews with Simpson and Yates below for their true survival stories in this video by the World Expeditions:
3. Aron Ralston
In 2003, a young climber named Aron Ralston set out to conquer Bluejohn Canyon in Utah. When an 800-pound boulder shifted, Ralston found himself trapped against the canyon wall with his hand crushed under the boulder.
After six days of what he calls “sleep-deprived, meandering thoughts,” Ralston made the difficult decision to use his multitool to amputate his own arm and free himself. He then repelled to safety.
Ralston’s story inspired the movie 127 Hours. Learn more about his survival story in the video below by TLC via Sirtoppim:
4. Mauro Prosperi
In 2014, an Italian runner named Mauro Prosperi set out to complete the Marathon des Sables — a brutal six-day run in the Sahara desert. By day four, he was making good time in the race (he was in fourth place) and had begun to fall in love with the desert landscape.
Prosperi’s luck changed when he found himself in the middle of an eight-hour sandstorm that left him disoriented, lost, and alone.
With just a few supplies and MREs on hand, and after trying and failing to catch the attention of two passing planes, Prosperi survived for 10 days by drinking his own distilled urine and eating bats.
Learn more about his amazing survival story by watching the video by 20th Century Fox below:
5. Douglas Mawson
Douglas Mawson is now an Australian hero due to his historic Antarctic exploration mission in the early 20th century. According to Cracked.com:
On December 14, 1912, Mawson and his two colleagues, Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Mertz, were returning to base after successfully not dying for a few days… when Ninnis fell into a crevasse, dragging their sledge, their supplies, and most of their dogs down with him. They were around 310 miles from home.
Eventually, Mertz died from cold and exhaustion, leaving Mawson to soldier on alone… Then, unbelievably (or perhaps totally believably), Mawson’s sledge got wedged in the snow.
He also fell into a crevasse, where he “dangled helplessly above the abyss, with his sledge behind him edging towards the lip.”
After pulling himself up from a frozen grave and surviving 32 days in the harshest environment on the planet, Mawson finally reached his hut.
He was then told that he would have to wait 10 more months in Antarctica. The ship meant to take him back home had sailed off only a few hours earlier, believing him dead.
Learn more about Mawson’s journey and survival in the video below by Today I Found Out:
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6. Marina Chapman
Of all the true survival stories here, Marina Chapman’s story might be the most unique and unbelievable. True survival stories in the wilderness don’t get any more amazing than this.
Though there is some speculation that her survival story may be untrue or embellished, Chapman states she was kidnapped from her Colombian village. At four years old, she was then abandoned in the jungle.
Unable to fend for herself, she began to follow a group of capuchin monkeys. She said, they “raised” her rescue by hunters around age 10.
During her time in the jungle, Chapman took shelter in trees and lived off of wild berries and bananas. After her rescue, Chapman says she was sold to a brothel and lived as a street urchin.
She was also enslaved by a mafia family before finally adopted around age 14.
Do you think her survival story is true? Check out the video by Buzz Sourse below:
7. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight
Between 2003 and 2004, Ariel Castro kidnapped these three young women in Cleveland. They spent the next ten years captive in his home.
They suffered harsh living conditions, starvation, and physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. One of them (Amanda Berry) was even impregnated by Castro and gave birth to a daughter during her captivity.
In 2013, Berry’s young daughter noticed that her father’s car was not in the driveway and alerted her mother. Acting fast, Berry grabbed the child and ran out into the street, crying for help.
She called 911 from a neighbor’s phone, and the three women were finally rescued. These women’s story is a true testimony to how much a human being can withstand and just how strong the will to live is.
Watch this interview by BBC Newsnight with two of the kidnapping survivors below:
8. Andes Plane Crash Survivors
Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 was a chartered flight carrying 45 people, including a rugby union team. With them also were their friends, family, and associates.
The plane crashed in the Andes on 13 October 1972, in an incident known as the Andes flight disaster. In the Hispanic world and South America, it is also known as the Miracle in the Andes (El Milagro de los Andes).
More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight died because of an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage.
Rescue came for the last 16 survivors on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash. The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions at over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) altitude.
Faced with starvation and radio news reports that search and rescue stopped, the survivors fed on the dead passengers preserved in the snow.
Rescuers did not learn of the survivors until 72 days after the crash when passengers Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, after a 10-day trek across the Andes, found Chilean arriero Sergio Catalán.
He then, gave them food and alerted the authorities to the existence of the other survivors. (via Wikipedia)
Watch this video documentary about the Andes Plane Crash by History Channel via ro7477:
9. Sully Sullenberger and the Crew and Passengers of U.S. Airways Flight 1549
On January 15, 2009, U.S. Airways flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia airport in New York, heading for Charlotte, North Carolina. After just a few minutes, the plane struck a flock of geese, causing both engines to fail.
In an act of courage, quick thinking, and exceptional airmanship, the pilot, “Sully” Sullenberger alerted air traffic control that he would be landing the plane on the Hudson River.
And he did just that, saving the lives of his entire crew and all 150 passengers on board the plane.
Learn more about the historic flight in the video below by AIRBOYD:
10. The Chilean Miners
The 2010 Copiapó mining accident, also known then as the “Chilean mining accident”, began in the afternoon of Thursday, 5 August 2010 as a significant cave-in at the troubled 121-year-old San José copper–gold mine.
The buried men, who became known as “Los 33” (“The 33”), found themselves trapped 700 meters (2,300 ft) underground and about 5 kilometers (3 mi) from the mine’s entrance via spiraling underground service ramps.
The mixed crew of experienced miners and technical support personnel, with less experience working underground, survived for a record 69 days deep underground before their rescue. (via Wikipedia)
The video below by CBS tells the amazing story of the Chilean miners’ survival and rescue:
It’s truly amazing what human beings are capable of under pressure. We don’t really know what we’re able to withstand or how far we’re willing to go to survive until we’re in a situation where we don’t have a choice.
Do you have an inspiring #survival story to share? Tell us about it using the hashtag #truesurvival!
— Survival Life (@SurvivalLF) April 12, 2016
The truth is, most of us will never be in these kinds of survival situation, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare. By learning from these inspirational stories of survival, we make ourselves better survivalists. Try to learn some sea, dessert, or jungle survival skills before you find yourself in a survival situation.
Do you have other unbelievable survival stories to share? Do share it with us in the comments section below!
- True Survival Stories: The Miracle In the Andes
- True Stories Of Survival: The Shackleton Antarctic Disaster
- 7 Military Disaster Survival Tips | Survival Life
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 28, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
EXCELLENT! I very much enjoy these survival stories!