These true survival stories will leave you in awe of the incredible human spirit and sheer will to survive whatever the odds. Hollywood is peppered with survival movies you wouldn’t think would be possible in real life until you come across well-documented true survival stories from random people. By learning from these true survival stories, we make ourselves better survivalists. Read on for 10 of the most famous survival stories that will inspire you!
True Survival Stories: Tales of Surviving the Impossible
1. Ricky Megee
In 2006, workers in a cattle station in one of the most remote areas of Australia came upon a man named Ricky Megee who 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 drugged. When he gained consciousness, he realized he was stranded.
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 before being found and rescued.
Check out the video below to learn more about Ricky Megee’s survival story.
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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, which meant that he was hanging over a deep crevasse with only Simpson’s hold on the rope to prevent him falling. To avoid being pulled off the mountain himself, Yates cut the rope. Simpson thus fell approximately 50 feet into the crevasse. He survived the fall, unbeknown to Yates, who assumed he must have been killed. 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 cut off from the world 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 had the roles been reversed. (via Wikipedia)
Watch interviews with Simpson and Yates below.
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 was made famous in the movie 127 Hours. Learn more about his story in the video below.
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 a 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 story by watching the video below.
5. Douglas Mawson
Douglas Mawson is considered 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.
In order to get back to base, Mawson and Mertz were going to have to trudge through a lifeless ice desert without shelter and only a third of the food required to make the journey…
After running out of food, they contemplated eating their dogs, which would force them to carry their own sledge. Hunger soon put an end to that philosophical quandary. 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 and he also fell into a crevasse, where he was left “dangling 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 … where he was told that he would have to wait 10 more months in Antarctica because the ship that was meant to take him back home had sailed off only a few hours earlier, believing him dead.
Learn more about Mawson’s journey in the video below.
6. Marina Chapman
Marina Chapman’s story might be the most unique and amazing on this list.
Though there is some speculation that her story may be untrue or embellished, Chapman states that she was kidnapped from her Colombian village at four years old, then abandoned in the jungle. Unable to fend for herself, she began to follow a group of capuchin monkeys who “raised” her until she was rescued 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, lived as a street urchin, and was enslaved by a mafia family before finally being adopted around age 14.
Check out the video below to learn more. Do you think her story is true?
7. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight
Between 2003 and 2004, these three young women were kidnapped in Cleveland by Ariel Castro. They spent the next ten years captive in his home, where they were subjected to harsh living conditions, starvation, and physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. One of them (Amanda Berry) was 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 quickly, 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 rescued.
These women’s story is truly a testimony to how much a human being can withstand, and just how strong the will to live is. Watch an interview with two of the survivors below.
8. Andes Plane Crash Survivors
Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 was a chartered flight carrying 45 people, including a rugby union team, their friends, family, and associates, that crashed in the Andes on 13 October 1972, in an incident known as the Andes flight disaster and, in the Hispanic world and South America, 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 were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage. The last 16 survivors were rescued 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 the search for them had been abandoned, the survivors fed on the dead passengers who had been 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, who gave them food and then alerted the authorities to the existence of the other survivors. (via Wikipedia)
9. Sully Sullenberger and the Crew and Passengers of US Airways Flight 1549
On January 15, 2009, US 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.
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”), were 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 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.
— Survival Life (@SurvivalLF) April 12, 2016
The truth is, most of us will never be in these kinds of situation. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare. Try to learn some sea, dessert, or jungle survival skills before you find yourself in a survival situation.
What would you have done if you find yourself in the same situation? Tell us your thoughts about it in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.