The world is a dangerous place, friends, with seething explosions of chaos around every corner. But miracles also exist, and in this feature we’ll spotlight scenarios that fuse the two. These are ten totally insane accidents where, amazingly, not a single person was killed.
Two Planes of Skydivers Crash in Mid-Air
A mid-air plane crash is one of the most horrifying accidents imaginable — not only are there shards of metal flying around, but there’s the added danger of plummeting thousands of feet to your death. Yet, when two airplanes collided over the Wisconsin-Minnesota border in November 2013, the absolute best result happened. You see, these airplanes belonged to a skydiving company, so when the crash happened all of the passengers already had parachutes on and were able to bail out of the catastrophe and land safely on the ground below. The pilot of one of the planes, who was forced to eject, was injured on landing, but this is still the safest mid-air plane crash of all time.
130-Vehicle Road Crash
What was regarded as one of the worst automotive accidents in the United Kingdom took place at the Isle of Sheppey crossing in Kent. Heavy fog blanketed the area and when careless motorists neglected to turn on their fog lights or reduce their speed, collisions started coming fast and furious in September 2013. Witnesses reported an eerie silence, punctuated only by the sound of cars careening into the thick mist and colliding with each other. Even though the accident involved 130 cars and trucks before it was done, by some insane miracle nobody was killed.
Air France Explosion
They say that statistically, airline travel is safer than driving, but there’s no denying that when an accident involving a jet liner happens, it’s spectacular. In August 2005, Air France flight 358 took off from Paris for Toronto. The flight was completely ordinary until they touched down at Toronto International Airport and the pilot overshot the end of the runway and sent the Airbus A340-313X into a small ravine. Immediately after the crash landing, the plane caught fire and exploded. Astonishingly, thanks to the concerted efforts of passengers and flight crew, all 297 passengers and 12 crew members managed to escape with their lives, although some were injured by jumping from the plane to the tarmac.
Propane Plant Explosion
Our modern world runs on substances that can, if not treated properly, be extremely dangerous. That came into terrifying focus in July 2013 when a massive explosion rocked the Blue Rhino propane plant in Tavares, Florida. Neighbors reported a massive booming noise and a shockwave that felt like a car was crashing into their homes when 53,000 20-gallon tanks exploded at 10:30 on a Saturday night, sending metal casings flying all over the area, even into nearby houses. Miraculously, although many of the plant workers were injured in the chaos, some with severe burns, there were no fatalities.
Balinese Water Landing
When an inexperienced pilot stepped into the driver’s seat for Lion Air flight 904 to Bali, nobody could have predicted the disaster that was to follow. The flight was coming in for a landing when the pilot drastically underestimated the distance to the runway, crash-landing in water about half a nautical mile before the runway began. When the Boeing 737-800 hit the water at high speed, the fuselage cleanly snapped in half, kicking off a panicked rush to escape from the 101 passengers on board. Amazingly, there were no fatalities during the evacuation. Lion Air is actually banned from flying in United States and European airspace due to the lax safety measures they use in hiring pilots.
Semi Truck Underride
One of the most dangerous things you can do as a driver is mess with a semi truck, and when Indianapolis woman Mariah Mitchell lost concentration at the wheel and fishtailed her car underneath a trailer on the freeway, by all rights she should have lost her life. The vast majority of underride accidents (where the victim’s car is dragged along beneath the trailer’s body) result in decapitation and death, but by some miracle Mitchell managed to position her body away from the trailer’s side and came out with just a cut on her arm. Her car was dragged for almost a quarter mile, throwing up a cascade of sparks as it scraped the ground.
Miracle on the Hudson
Accidents can be caused by many factors, even a few dumb birds. That’s what happened in the notorious case of US Airways Flight 1549, which took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport one chilly 2009 morning on its way to Charlotte, North Carolina. Shortly after takeoff, the plane flew into a flock of migrating Canadian geese, who got sucked into its engines and made the plane lose power high above New York City. The possibility of a crash in the Big Apple causing hundreds or thousands of deaths galvanized pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who made the decision to bring the plane down unpowered into the Hudson River. Miraculously, he nailed the landing and not a single person was killed, despite a huge hole ripping in the bottom of the plane’s fuselage on impact.
CSX 8888 Incident
Train accidents are notorious for heavy death tolls, as passengers are packed densely into fragile carriages that can transform into death traps at a moment’s notice. When trains are carrying toxic materials, things get even scarier. So when a freight train carrying a massive payload of molten phenol, a chemical that causes grievous bodily harm when inhaled or touched, went out of control on a northwestern Ohio railway line, emergency responders feared the worst. The engineer of the train had stepped out to adjust a switch, but his brakes were incorrectly set and it sped off without any other crew on board. For over two hours, the train continued its deadly trip, as police tried to halt it by shooting at an emergency shutoff switch. Finally, railroad operatives managed to chase the train with another locomotive and hitch onto it, slowing it down enough to shut off the engine.
Highway Crash Landing
Unplanned landings are the cause of many a fatality, as it’s notoriously difficult to bring a plane down on anything but a runway. But for the pilot of a King Air plane coming into Chicago Executive Airport in June 2013, an insane crash was still a landing he could walk away from. The plane had no other passengers or crew when it was forced down on a road near the airport, striking a tree and sustaining massive damage. The pilot walked away with mild injuries but the plane was totaled. Amazingly enough, that same apartment complex had, years before, been the site of another plane crash — that time a Gulfstream IV that killed a passenger and a trio of crew members. Guess lightning does strike twice!
Next: These Photos Will Not End Well
Gordie’s Place Crash
You don’t even have to be traveling for a terrifying accident to happen. The patrons at Gordie’s Place, a bar in the improbably named town of Little Canada, Minnesota, were just enjoying an afternoon when a massive truck plowed through the front window, pinning several patrons under a pile of wreckage. The driver had suffered a diabetic attack that caused her to lose control of her Chevy Silverado, and the son of the bar’s owner quickly sprung into action, retrieving a front-end loader from the parking lot and using it to lift the truck and free the patrons trapped underneath it. Amazingly, nobody was killed in the freak accident, and the bar was rebuilt as good as new.