Compiled by Michael D’Angona, Adelaide Farah and Matthew Hogan

Rush-Hour Survivor:  Brooklyn man survives last-second fall in front of a speeding subway!


Wikimedia photo


New York City is one of the busiest metropolitan areas on the planet. With the sheer amount of people in New York City and the speed at which its commuters move, it’s a miracle that what happened to commuter Chris Marshall back in February doesn’t happen more often.

Around 8:40 a.m., Marshall was waiting on the R train platform at the Union Street and 4th Avenue station in Park Slope, Brooklyn, when he fell onto the tracks.

While there were other commuters around to help, there wasn’t enough time to pull Marshall up as a train was quickly approaching the station. However, quick thinking got Marshall ouhet of the situation as he managed to slip in the space between the tracks’ first and second rails and avoid being hit.

“The first car rolled over the man and stopped, leaving him stuck underneath, but he managed to stay tucked into the trench between the rails and not make contact with the train,” a transit spokeswoman told The Brooklyn Paper.

Power was cut to protect Marshall from the third rail and members of the New York Fire Department soon arrived to extract him of from under the train. In the end, Marshall was stretchered out but only with a “few minor injuries related to the fall,” according to The Brooklyn Paper.

Tornado Terror: Twelve people survive an EF-4 twister in a restaurant’s basement.


FEMA photo


In early April, an EF-4 tornado hit Rochelle, Illinois, about 80 miles west of Chicago, leveling much of the city. One of the buildings destroyed during the tornado was Grubsteakers, a local restaurant. While the restaurant itself was torn apart by the storm, the 12 people hiding in its basement walked away unscathed.

As the tornado approached, the owner of Grubsteakers told everyone inside to get down to the basement. The group of 12, made up of employees and diners, went into an “old-fashioned storm cellar,” according to The Washington Post.

The group waited out the storm downstairs while the restaurant’s upstairs area was mostly destroyed.

“When the tornado hit, we all got a dust bath,” Raymond Kramer, who was down in the cellar, told a reporter for The Weather Channel. “Everyone in there got shattered with dust and debris falling out of the rafters.”

The tornado blew tons of heavy debris on top of the protective cellar doors, including a “whole metal wall,” multiple outlets reported. After being trapped for nearly two hours, first responders arrived and began to loosen up the debris and free the survivors from the restaurant’s cellar. Eventually all 12 survivors walked away from the destruction with not only their lives, but no injuries thanks to quick thinking from the restaurant’s owner.

Hero Bus Driver: Substitute driver saves 38 kids from a burning school bus.


The driver’s quick thinking saved 38 kids. Photo by Ryan Cullem


Kristina Buhrman teaches math at Discovery Academy in Lake Alfred, Florida, and often fills in as a bus driver. On one of her substitute days, her bus was packed with 38 children on the way to school when she noticed smoke coming from the back of the bus. It was when a student stood up in the back and yelled, “Ms. Buhrman, there’s smoke coming out of my seat!” that she quickly realized she had to get the children off the bus to safety.

As she was evacuating the 38 kids, flames appeared in the back of the bus. Kristina kept calm and later commented that she felt there was divine intervention. Looking at a photo of the burned bus afterward, she noticed there was a rainbow over the scene even though it had not rained. “I immediately started to cry because I knew that we were being taken care of,” she shared.

Kristina called 911 as she got the children off the bus. The next challenge was getting them across a drainage ditch. Keeping the group in a straight line, she brought them to safety without anyone falling in or being harmed.

Receiving praise nationwide for her amazing rescue, Kristina was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the Florida Highway Patrol for her bravery. Declaring that she didn’t believe the survival of 38 children was anything unusual, she said, “I don’t necessarily feel that I did anything that anybody else wouldn’t do.” She explained that she was responsible for protecting the children and just doing her job.

Kristina doesn’t consider her act to be extraordinary. “We’re put here to help others and to influence others to do good in this world. I especially try to teach that to my students.” She added, “You’ve got to do things for other people because that’s what this world’s about, people helping people.”

Three-Hour Swim To Shore: Life jackets help stranded fishermen avoid tragedy on the high seas!

The old adage “better safe than sorry” rings true out on the open ocean more than most places. Two fishermen made truth out of that adage when their boat sank of the coast of northeastern New Zealand in February.

Jason Yorke and Lyndon Enright were fishing more than a mile of the shore of Papamoa Beach when their 10-foot aluminum boat was hit with a wave and started sinking. With their life vests tightly strapped on, they got in the water. The fishermen were then forced to grab hold of a bin filled with snapper in order to stay afloat.

Three tiring hours later, the duo both made it back to shore, with 14 snapper still in the bin. Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders of the Tauranga Police told Radio Bollybop 105.4 that the life jackets made the situation easier. “The wearing of life jackets by these two men certainly avoided a tragedy, vindicating the safe-boating message of wearing life jackets at all times,” he said.

Despite the trying situation, Yorke said he and Enright were more than confident during their swim. The duo said they thought of their families and were determined to make it back to shore alive.

“We just never panicked, and that’s what saved us,” Yorke later wrote on his Facebook page. “We knew we had a very long swim ahead of us and just started swimming, and never stopped until we hit the sand three hours later.”

Rollover Rescue: Young mother saved from a near-fatal auto wreck!

On January 7, 2015, Huma Rizvi was headed home to her family. Her SUV hit an icy patch as she made a sharp turn off the Belt Parkway in Queens, New York, causing her to skid and crash into a ditch near Francis Lewis Boulevard. During the crash, Rizvi’s SUV was turned upside down.

“I could see my wallet and my phone floating, so I couldn’t call anybody,” the woman explained to New York’s CBS2 News. “I didn’t know what to do. I was like, ‘I’m dying here.’”

Rizvi started to pray because it was the only thing she could do since was trapped in her vehicle and unable to call for help. In her prayers she asked, “If I am to live, then save me, and if it’s my end, then it’s the end.”

The 36-year-old mother of three realized time was running out. Her upside-down car was filling up with cold, icy water from the ditch.

Unknown to Rizvi, her SUV’s electronic roadside assistance notified police. Officers Robert Falcone, Michelle Forthman, Marc Rudon and Anthony Orban from the NYPD’s 105th Precinct arrived on the scene and jumped into the icy water to save her. The officers were able to cut the woman’s seat belt and open the car’s passenger-side door, allowing Rizvi to swim to them. She was taken to a Jamaica, Queens, hospital where she spent the night.

“I really want to thank the police officers,” she affirmed through tears to CBS2. “If they were even five or 10 minutes later, I wouldn’t be here.”

Snake Attack Escape: Quick thinking saves woman from deadly snakebite!


Thinkstock photo


Deaths from snakebites are incredibly rare. Since the start of 2014, just two documented deaths have been reported in the U.S. as a result of snakebites. Even though they are rarely fatal, snakebites can still be a serious medical problem if not treated quickly and appropriately.

Kim Rees was mountain biking with her husband, David, near Rabbit Mountain in Boulder County, Colorado, when she was caught of guard by a rattlesnake. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said that in order to change trails, the couple had to walk across a patch of weeds. During the walk, Kim “felt a sharp pain in her leg and out of the corner of her eye saw a snake slither under a rock,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. The 58-year- old told authorities that she never heard a rattle while passing by the snake.

Despite the pain of the bite, Kim and David still needed to make it down to the parking area and get help. A bystander called for assistance as David and Kim made their way of the trail. By keeping her leg as still as possible, Kim helped decrease the spread of the venom through her body, according to the sheriff’s office. Multiple medical teams were waiting for Kim and David as they reached the parking area. She was flown by Northern Colorado Med Evac helicopter to Boulder Community Health, where she was treated for the bite and eventually released the next day.

“Rattlesnakes are common in Boulder County,” the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office reported after the incident. “They live in virtually every terrestrial habitat and take shelter in crevices, woodpiles, brushy vegetation or mammal burrows. The best way to avoid being bitten is to avoid places snakes hang out. More people are killed by lightning and bee stings than by snakebites, but snakebites make you very sick and uncomfortable.”

Miracle On The Water: Missing sailor found adrift after 66 days at sea!


Although injured with a broken collarbone, he maintained his mental stability during the ordeal. USCG photo


More than two months after being reported missing, 37-year-old Louis Jordan was rescued from his disabled vessel in the Atlantic Ocean. The lost sailor’s boat was “dead in the water” about 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, when a German-flagged vessel, the Houston Express, spotted the craft and took Jordan aboard. Soon after, a Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew was launched and transported the weakened sailor to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for medical care and observation.

Being out of contact with loved ones for 66 days, Jordan assumed his family thought he had perished. He told ABC News that his first words to his father were, “I was afraid that you guys were crying and sad that, you know, I was dead, and I wasn’t dead.”

Surviving on the open ocean is an arduous process, and more often than not ends in disastrous results for the helpless victims. Louis Jordan later told a reporter from ABC News, “My boat got flipped and did a 180 on me while I was sleeping at night. And I was flying through the air and somersaulting, and all my junk and all my equipment, all my GPS devices and everything, even my stove dislodged, and it was all flying with me, all rolling around.”

Although injured with a broken collarbone, he maintained his mental stability during the ordeal and found ways to supply himself with the basics of survival. He caught small fish with his bare hands to supply his body with needed protein to keep his energy levels up. He also avoided dehydration by drinking fresh rainwater and stayed undercover during the day to protect against the sun’s powerful rays.

CPR Saves Toddler: Hypothermia victim revived after 101 minutes of constant CPR!


Shutterstock photo


Doctors are calling the survival of Gardell Martin a miracle after he was lying face down in a creek’s icy water for 30 minutes. The 22-month-old Pennsylvania toddler fell into a creek that runs through his parents’ 5-acre property near Miflinburg, Pennsylvania. He was playing with two of his brothers when he slipped into the creek, swollen by melting snow.

Gardell’s 7-year old brother ran to the house and told his mother, Rose, that Gardell was missing. She called 911, and her two teenage daughters walked downstream to search for the infant.

Suffering from extreme hypothermia that plunged his body temperature to 77 degrees, the little boy’s lifeless body was found by a neighbor a quarter-mile downstream after being caught on a tree limb. An ambulance arrived moments later, and the first responders pulled the toddler’s body from the 34-degree water but found no pulse. Refusing to give up, they began performing CPR, which continued in his transfer to a medical helicopter and finally to the emergency room of Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania.

A team of 30 doctors and nurses knew that the profound hypothermia suffered by the boy in the icy creek was working to his advantage. It slowed his metabolism and gave his organs some protection to help prevent cardiac arrest.

Dr. Richard Lambert and Dr. Frank Maffei were not optimistic when the child arrived. “He did not have a pulse, and he wasn’t breathing on his own and he had no neurologic function. All of those things were being done for him,” Dr. Lambert told The Patriot News. “He was dead.” However, the hypothermic-like state actually gave the child a second chance at life.

Gardell’s mother gathered her children around her and began to pray as the medical team slowly warmed Gardell’s body as CPR continued. At around 82 degrees, the doctors detected a pulse. Defying all odds, the child’s heart had restarted after 101 unbroken minutes of CPR.

A few hours later, the little boy regained consciousness. Doctors were stunned to find that his brain function was normal. The doctors believed that the duration of CPR and the rapidity of the complete recovery “stand out as quite striking,” noted Dr. Maffei. Dr. Lambert added, “Gardell belongs in a “rare, rare, extreme category for recovery. It provides us with a smile on our face, knowing you were part of something this wonderful and amazing.”

Shortly after the toddler’s ordeal, he was walking and talking, though he still needed to regain a bit of balance.

Cell Phone Saves Hiker: Lost California hiker directs rescue helicopter to remote location.

Ahiker helped save his own life in February of 2015 after using a cell phone to coordinate his own rescue. The 22-year-old man was hiking near California’s Mammoth Mountain on a Wednesday when he became disoriented. The hiker ended up spending the night sleeping near the mountain “without proper provisions in an area blanketed with multiple feet of snow,” according to the California National Guard.

After a night on the mountain, the hiker called in to the California Office of Emergency Services Thursday afternoon. The hiker’s call eventually made its way to the California Army National Guard, which immediately deployed a helicopter and crew to begin their search. The National Guard wanted to quickly start its search because of a dangerous storm that was headed to the area. A location provided by the Madera County Sheriff’s Officer yielded zero results for the missing hiker. However, the hiker had seen the Chinook fly overhead and helped further with the search.

An off-site coordinator for the search, National Guard Captain Ben Bowman, had a phone call from the hiker transferred to him via the sheriff’s office.

“He saw the CH-47 go by, and he could hear them, but he was afraid they were going to miss him. Our intent was to recover him prior to nightfall and before the storm got there,” Bowman said in a statement. “While I was on the phone with the hiker, I was texting a non-flying pilot in the aircraft to direct him to the right location. This was the first time we had ever talked an aircraft in while talking to a distressed citizen.”

The hiker was eventually located around 4:30 p.m. “on a steep slope with 100-foot trees” that made landing impossible, according to the National Guard. The crew lowered a hoist to the hiker that lifted him into the Chinook, where he was finally safe.

Youngest Transplant Survivor: Infant beats fatal prognosis and survives heart transplant!

Baby Oliver Crawford was never expected to survive after his birth. During the last few weeks of his mother’s pregnancy, Caylyn Otto was planning for her son’s burial instead of his new life. Doctors had noticed about 20 weeks into her pregnancy that Oliver’s heart was significantly enlarged.

The baby’s parents were planning on Oliver’s being still-born or, at best, were going to consult hospice caregivers for his end of life. Ms. Otto, a dental assistant, was praying that she could get to hold Oliver even for one minute before his death. “That’s all we ask,” she pleaded. “Just one minute with our son. Every minute more we get is a blessing.”

Oliver was born premature at 33 weeks with a heart the size of a five-year-old child’s and a large left ventricle that affected the infant’s lung and kidney development. The newborn was put on the heart transplant list, but Dr. John Nigro, a pediatric cardio surgeon, explained that normally a child must be 36 weeks old before this operation is performed.

At this point, a miracle happened. A donor heart became available a few days after Oliver’s birth. Even though he was not of the ideal age, the surgical team prepared him for the 10-hour procedure. “If you get the perfect donor, you may never get that donor again,” declared Dr. Daniel Velez, who procured the heart and made sure it met all the requirements needed for the baby.

Hospital officials believe that Oliver may be the youngest heart recipient in the nation. After the surgical incision was made, doctors texted the baby’s parents often during the surgery to update them on the operation’s progress. Instead of planning Oliver’s funeral, his parents are optimistic. Doctors say Oliver has been doing well post-transplant.

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This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Fall 2015 edition. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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