Compiled By Adelaide Farah, Matthew Hogan & Laura Lancaster
Crash In The Jungle: Teen mother saves self and baby after plane crash with survival smarts.
If surviving a plane crash defies the odds, then surviving five days in a jungle after the crash with an infant is nearly impossible. At age 18, Marinella Murillo did just that after a plane she was traveling on went down in a Colombian jungle in June of 2015.
The pilot of the plane was killed as a result of the crash, so Murillo and her 8-month-old son, Yudier, were forced to survive on their own.
“It’s a jungle area. The accident was catastrophic,” Colombian Air Force Colonel Hector Carrascal said.
After the crash, Murillo told authorities she moved away from the plane for fear of an explosion. She then managed to build a small roof so they could stay dry from the rain. The biggest key to their survival was Murillo finding coconut water. She drank plenty of it to stay conscious and keep her son safe.
Murillo also ran into natives of the area who assisted her, according to the Colombian Air Force.
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Authorities did not disclose to what degree the natives assisted in the situation.
Carrascal said he and his men in the Air Force rescue operation had practically given up hope after days of searching for Murillo and her son. However, the search continued as the rescue group used loudspeakers to tell Murillo to return to the accident site. Eventually, the rescue crew found Murillo and brought her to safety.
“[It] was the last day for the tasks of this team when the lady appeared near the scene of the accident,” Carrascal said.
Murillo had several wounds and minor burns while her infant son was
Not In My House: Woman repels midnight attackers with 9mm handgun!
Detroit, Michigan, resident Dietta Gueye was asleep when she heard taps on her bedroom window. Noting that it was 2:37 a.m., she knew that no welcome visitors were coming to her home. The 34-year-old Gueye quietly reached for the 9mm handgun she kept under her purse by the bedside.
The cancer survivor fearlessly faced this threat just as she had waged her battle against the disease. “They were not ready for that nine I had,” Gueye declared.
As the intruders shattered her bedroom window, Gueye’s one thought was survival. “As soon as I was able to feel the barrel of my gun, I shot,” Gueye said.
Two of the five men who broke into the Detroiter’s home had guns, and one attacker shot Gueye before the would-be robbers fled. The bullet struck her in the thigh, exited and landed in a nearby wall. After the incident, Dietta Gueye received treatment at a local hospital and returned home.
Gueye credits her self-
defense training for helping her survive this home invasion. A previous experience of an armed robbery at a tax office where she worked convinced her that she should learn how to handle a firearm. After a subsequent break-in three years ago while she was away from her home, she obtained her concealed pistol license, or CPL, for protection.
“I want to encourage a lot of women to get that CPL,” Gueye said. “And if you’ve got to protect yourself, your life, do not be scared.”
Grizzly Business: Man escapes bear attack with strange survival technique.
Avid hunter Chase Dellwo was no stranger to bear encounters from a lifetime spent in western Montana. He remembered a grizzly breaking into the house as a child, and has been on the wrong side of more than one bear charge. But Dellwo wasn’t expecting to nearly trip over a sleeping grizzly when he started following the sound of an elk bugle, arrow notched and ready to fly.
By the time Dellwo saw the grizzly (the howling wind had muffled the sound of his approach) he was only 3 feet away. “I had an arrow nocked, and I put my bow up in front of me and took two or three steps back,” Dellwo said. “There wasn’t any time to draw my bow back.”
Almost immediately, Dellwo was knocked off his feet. The grizzly stood on top of him, bit down on his head and roared. Then, unexpectedly, the bear retreated. But the relief was only momentary. After backing away a few paces, the bear circled back around to bite Dellwo on his lower leg before throwing him several feet. The next time the bear circled around him, Dellwo knew that he needed to have a plan to have any hope of surviving the encounter.
Remembering an article that his grandmother had clipped for him years ago, Dellwo made a gutsy choice. The article said that large animals have bad gag reflexes, so when the grizzly circled back around the next time, Dellwo shoved his arm down the bear’s throat. To his relief, the technique worked and the bear left.
Bruised, bloodied and battered, Dellwo knew that he was lucky to be alive, but that help was still far away. “I forced myself to calm down and not to panic,” Dellwo said. “I was lost. I cleared the blood out of my eyes. If I had allowed myself to panic I would still be in there.”
Despite the injuries to his leg, Dellwo began the long walk to find help. Later, at the hospital, Dellwo’s wife and family expressed relief that he had managed to escape with what were relatively minor injuries, given the scale of the attack.
Seat Belts Save Lives: Driver survives 30-foot fall thanks to vehicle safety device.
During a late July rainstorm, the patrons of Cove Restaurant in Deerfield Beach, Florida, had a front row seat to what could have been a scene out of a Hollywood movie. The driver of a silver truck lost control on a nearby bridge, slamming into the guard railing before being pitched over the side.
When she heard the screeching of the tires, Jodi Ryan, a waitress at Cove Restaurant, looked up just in time to see the truck fall 30 feet, landing upside down on an access road next to Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway.
“It was insane,” Ryan told the Sun Sentinel. “I really thought I saw someone die.”
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To John Longman, a Good Samaritan who rushed over to the scene of the accident when he heard the crash, it looked bad. The truck was upside down and the roof was crushed and caved in on the passenger side. But when Longman went to find the driver, he was amazed to find him conscious and seemingly unhurt.
“He looked super-scared,” said Longman. “I said, ‘Come out’ and he said, ‘I’m stuck.’” The drivers was trapped by his seatbelt—the same seat belt that almost certainly saved his life when his truck flipped over the bridge. Longman reached around and unfastened the seat belt, allowing the man to exit the vehicle. When the patrons of Cove Restaurant saw the man walk away from the scene of the crash, they cheered.
It seems miraculous, but what saved this man’s life that day was the time he took to buckle up. “Once you become an airborne object, anything can happen,” Mike Jachles, a spokesman for the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, said. “If this isn’t an example of seat belts saving lives, I don’t know what is.”
Mid-Air Collision Course: Deflated chute saves free-falling BASE jumper from dangerous cliff-face crash!
BASE jumpers Scott Frankson and a friend were presented with a frightening challenge when their parachutes became tangled in mid-air while performing a routine “fly by” near Peralta Trail, on the east end of the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. The other jumper had miscalculated, causing his parachute to collide mid-air with Frankson’s parachute.
Several of Frankson’s parachute lines were cut in the collision. The parachute also was deflated by half, which put him in an extremely precarious position as the two parachutes began to wind around each other during the descent.
The jumpers’ expert maneuvering skills and ability to stay calm in the face of danger eventually helped the parachutes to unwind and finally separate. While first considered a disastrous turn of events, Frankson’s half-inflated chute actually ended up aiding in his survival, descending rapidly toward the ground where it quickly caught on a rock and forced the jumper to crash-land on the face of a boulder. According to Frankson, if he had landed 1 foot lower, he would have run into a sheer cliff face. If the landing was 1 foot higher, he would have hit a group of jagged rocks, The Arizona Republic reported.
In the end, the fall broke Frankson’s carbon-fiber helmet, split his lip and gave him several bruises, but left him alive. The other jumper landed safely, having only a bruised heel and some “minor bumps.” Expressing surprise that he and his friend survived the fall without experiencing serious injuries, Frankson said, “I believe it was a miracle.” He has had a few close calls during his BASE jumping career, but he described this one as by far the worst.
Digging Out: Buried alive under snow, New Hampshire man creates air pocket to survive.
The winter of 2015 featured some of the coldest weather on record in the U.S. A fairly consistent snowfall accompanied the freezing temperatures, especially in the Northeast, making daily life tougher for some. New Hampshire resident Dean Mullins can attest to the amount of snow that fell outside of his home, as he spent more than four hours buried under some of it in February.
Mullins was clearing snow off the roof of his home after his daughter had complained about a leak in her room. He was finishing up the job when some of the snow quickly fell and pinned him on his back, according to NBC News.
“I had no time to move, it was just moving so quickly,” Mullins told NBC News. “At first I was angry, just because I wasn’t going to go out like that I guess would be the best way to put it.”
Mullins was buried under approximately 2 feet of snow and, unfortunately, his family had just left his home. Knowing it might be a while, Mullins managed to move enough to create a small air pocket and enough room to breathe. After calling out for approximately four hours, Mullins was in luck as his wife returned home. She quickly realized that something was amiss and went outside, hearing her husband’s barely audible yells.
Mullins’ wife called 911 and firefighters eventually freed him. “It was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mullins told NBC News.
Accidental Assist: Trapped victim uses Siri on his iPhone to call for help!
An accidental phone call saved the life of 18-year-old Sam Ray. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, teen had jacked up his black 1998 Dodge Dakota truck to investigate a problem. While underneath, the jack fell apart, bringing the 5,000-pound truck crashing down on top of young Ray.
Because no one was home, and he was out of earshot from his nearest neighbors, the recent high-school graduate was almost out of luck. One of Ray’s legs felt like it was broken. As he tried to free it, the motion accidentally hit the home button of his iPhone. It lit up after being butt-dialed, and the teen heard the voice of Siri. At first he wondered, “Why are you going off?” Then he heard someone say “Hello” and realized he could use his phone to reach help.
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Rutherford County Dispatcher Christina Lee thought she was hearing an accidental butt dial because she “gets a lot of pocket dials. But then I heard the screams for help. It was just scary. I was hopeful that he could hear me. It was a shot in the dark. I kept yelling so that if he could hear me, he would know help was on the way.” Lee found out Ray’s location through his cell phone signal. “The map got to his street,” Lee continued, “and Ray was yelling his home address. That was the best thing he could have done.”
Members of the Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, the Rutherford County Fire Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol responded to Ray’s call. They were able to move him out from under the vehicle and then transported him to the Vanderbilt LifeFlight base in Murfreesboro, where he was then airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, about 40 miles away.
According to Richard Miller, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s chief of trauma and surgical care, the teen survivor was in good condition despite suffering several broken ribs, a bruised kidney, cuts, a concussion and burns to his left arm.
Stranded In Snow: Teens survive sub-zero temps with Maine woodland knowledge and resourcefulness.
Two teenagers set out for a snowmobile trip but didn’t count on getting stuck in deep snow. Fifteen-year-olds Tyler Howard-Gotto and his friend, Jonah May, were traveling from Mexico, Maine, on a frigid evening aboard a snowmobile and were headed to a camp owned by Howard-Gotto’s grandfather.
The teenagers made what could have been a fatal mistake when they missed a turn to keep them on the groomed westbound trail and instead got on the ungroomed South Sawyer Trail where they got stuck. “I tried to turn around but we got bogged down,” explained Howard-Gotto to the Portland Press-Herald.
Temperatures in the area dropped to -12 degrees overnight and the wind-chill measured in Fryeburg, about 60 miles south of where the boys were stranded, made it feel like -27. The boys had been due home by 10 p.m. and when they did not arrive, Howard-Gotto’s family became alarmed and notified authorities.
The teenagers had cell phones with them but were unable to get a signal in the woods. After unsuccessfully trying to start a fire using a rag soaked in gasoline from the snowmobile, they trudged to Black Cat Road and down to the shore of Richardson Lake.
After traveling about 4 miles, they found a locked storage shed. Hoping that the owners would understand their desperate predicament, they broke in and poured gasoline on a wood sign to start a fire. The boys then decided to spend the night in a small golf cart inside the shed.
During the frigid night, the boys could hear the Warden service aircraft overhead. They hoped that their fire would be spotted. But no one came to their rescue, so they slept inside until dawn. The next morning, Howard-Gotto and May left their shelter and walked across the ice on the south end of Richardson Lake to South Arm Road. A passing motorist picked them up and took them to the camp where they were originally headed.
Howard-Gotto’s grandfather, Phil Howard, first learned they were safe when he received a call from the motorist who gave them a ride in the morning. “You just can’t imagine how relieved I am, and my grandson’s all upset because they made a big deal about it.” Not surprised that Howard-Grotto survived, he added, “He’s well educated about the woods.”
Staying Afloat: Quick thinking keeps Vancouver man alive in violent waters.
Wearing a life jacket is an absolute must when aboard a boat. A man from western British Columbia learned that lesson the hard way after he was thrown from a boat when it hit a rock in rough waters.
Kevin Strain was aboard the Oliver Clark II with a friend, according to The Canadian Press. The boat was traveling through the Yucataw Rapids when it hit a rock and Strain was quickly thrown overboard.
“It felt like the bow dropped into a hole,” Strain told The Canadian Press. “That’s when I got ejected out of the wheelhouse. I was standing just to the left of the captain, who was at the wheel, and I went right through the wheelhouse door on the port side and right over the rail.”
Not wearing his life jacket, Strain had to use quick thinking to stay afloat. He saw two gas cans that had also been thrown overboard in the water nearby. Grabbing the jerry cans was a vital move, because staying afloat in the cold waters was made even tougher when Strain had to combat several whirlpools. The father of three said he was sucked under the water several times but kept making it back up to the surface, eventually making it out of the rapids.
The whirlpools were tough, but Strain also had to fight off the cold waters, which were approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit on that day. “I never stopped kicking. I think just working, keeping the blood flowing, was helping me out a bit,” Kevin Strain recounted to The Canadian Press. “I think if I’d just drifted I would have frozen pretty quick.”
After more than two hours in the water, Strain eventually made it out of the water. He yelled from shore until he caught the attention of rescuers who were out on the water searching for him, according to The Canadian Press.
Crawling Toward Safety: Injured hunter uses backwoods skills to stay alive.
John Sain is an experienced hunter and outdoorsman, but even experience can’t account for some things in the wilderness. Sain was tracking an elk near McCall, Idaho, in September of 2015 when he stepped on a log that rolled. The awkward step caused Sain to break both the tibia and fibia in his right leg.
The immense pain left Sain almost immobile, and he did not have cell service to call help. Things didn’t look good. He began to weigh his options.
“Contemplated on just ending it right there, honestly,” Sain told multiple media outlets. But after writing goodbye letters to his wife and two children, Sain found the will to continue on. He made a splint from sticks and cloth, and then started his arduous crawl through the wilderness to find safe shelter.
Sain managed for several days with limited food and a water purifier. Always the prepared outdoorsman, he also had a survival kit with him with which he lit a fire each night to stay warm. However, on the fourth day, severely dehydrated and dealing with the pain of his broken leg, Sain was at his breaking point, but that’s when his luck finally changed.
Two motorcyclists stumbled upon Sain and called for a rescue. The local McCall fire and rescue personnel used chainsaws to clear a tree line so that a helicopter could land. Sain was transported to a Boise hospital where, after surgery on his right leg, he began the recovery process with his family at his side.
Sain recommended solo hikers and hunters have multiple methods of communication with them, such as satellite radios or GPS devices, in case their cell phone looses power or has no signal.
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This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.