Every day we walk the streets, most of the time little realizing how closely we might be dicing with death. The Grim Reaper is nothing if not unpredictable. Cars speed past in a seemingly parallel world, but the sidewalk would provide no protection if one were to come careering out of control, its path destined to cross your own. When flesh and bone is all that stands in the way of a ton of spinning metal, there can be only one winner.
And yet sometimes there is a wild card in the hand that fate deals out – a joker who turns around and says: “The joke's on you, skull features! Whet your scythe for another day.” Yes, sometimes, just sometimes, death is thwarted at the last in those miracle moments we call near misses, or close shaves. Here are 10 people who jumped back out of an early grave, missing death by a whisker.
10. Man saved from flipping rally car by tree
Whoa! Who'd watch a race this close to the action? Scary stuff. A rally car comes screaming around a bend at serious speed, tips onto two wheels, then flips and comes off the road. The guy caught in its path is rooted to the spot – he simply cannot evade its trajectory – and the hi-vis vest and caution tape doesn't provide any protection. It's only after the car has crashed into the tree – ultimately all that lies between him and death – that the guy can scamper away. By then, of course, it would have been too late. Proof that our reaction times are nothing in the face of vehicular speeds.
9. Woman just misses being crushed by two vehicles
More heart-stopping automobile madness, though this time it's just a pedestrian spared by what some might call divine intervention. The miraculous escape is proof that the sidewalk is no one's savior, with good fortune all that saves this woman's bacon. One minute she is ambling along swinging her bag of shopping, the next she's within a hair's breadth of being crushed against a wall by a two car pile-up caused by a car careering into the side of a van – and almost ending her life. Clearly distressed, she leaves the scene, while witnesses congregate.
8. Train rips off man's shoe at level crossing
This is insane. This guy came so close to death that he even lost his shoe in the process. Late for work, he walked in front of an express train traveling at 70mph, having jumped the barrier at a level crossing, following another man's lead. His burst of speed and leap over the other gate after the train slices off his footwear shows the adrenaline coursing through his body – notwithstanding the broken ankle he'd suffered. The CCTV footage, captured in Rainham in Essex, England, was released to warn others of similar foolishness – which naturally deeply affects train drivers.
7. Man almost kneecapped by stock car
It seems to happen in slow motion – but then isn't that what people say serious car accidents are like? A stock car tears around the corner, but the driver's taken it too tight! Then there's this French guy (what is he doing?) standing on the grass too close to the track. Flat cap on head, bemused look on face, he's almost kneecapped by the skidding car, his legs, and perhaps life, saved by a reflex movement of the hips. Then he dodders off – get this – over the track! A lesson learned: watch from the safety of the stands, especially if you're a little long in the tooth.
6. Skater nearly jumps into path of oncoming bus
This one's a lesson for all the grommets out there: skate where you like; jump from whatever height you want; heck, if you're not concerned about having offspring, do as this skater's doing and board slide along every darned handrail from here to East Jesus. Just don't involve fast moving traffic at night in the trick 'cos your little wheels ain't no match for those big ones covered in vulcanized rubber. This guy jumps, lands on the sidewalk, and almost ends up in the path of an oncoming city bus. Cue evasive action. Gnarly? Er, that's one way of putting it...
5. TV presenter's close shave with Spitfire
Not quite a near death experience but certainly a near miss, and a funny one from above at that, as English TV presenter and former Le Mans racing driver Alain de Cadenet ducks under a flying Spitfire – the WWII fighter he is reporting on. The pass directly overhead and from behind made by the classic plane was clearly planned, but it seems to have been executed a little lower than anticipated, and it sure as sherbet shook up de Cadenet. His expletives after the close shave with this flying barber are hilarious; it's no wonder this clip has become an internet favorite.
4. Man dodges two trains on Chinese railroad
More foolhardy tempting of fate on railroad tracks are seen in this footage from a surveillance camera at a station in China. The man risking life and limb is one seriously lucky individual after dodging not one but two high speed trains in succession. Displaying the skills of a ninja (or perhaps a drunken master) he looks like he may have played one too many levels of the classic video game Frogger, springing out of the way of one train and falling over only to have to jump up again to avoid another from the other direction – horns blaring for maximum fear effect. Close? Oh yes.
3. Man at crossing almost hit by runaway bus
A close shave that probably saw the man with his briefcase needing to change his underwear, seconds away as he was from becoming roadkill. In fairness, in using a crosswalk where cars were stopped, how was he to know a multi-ton runaway bus would come smashing into the back of an auto, almost slamming both vehicles into him as he jogged across? Check out the re-injection of pace into his stride as he just misses being taken out. Filmed in Perm, Russia the bus's brakes had failed on a hill, sending it hurtling down five blocks, colliding with multiple cars and injuring four.
2. Flag official somehow escapes spinning race car
Further hair-raising evidence that flag officials at race tracks better have good life insurance policies. This individual, however, seems to have been watched by a guardian angel, despite the tumbling, genie-like cloud of dust and near-annihilation around him. The car ramps, rolls and bounces numerous times, yet somehow fails to hit him. According to a witness, the incident took place in Lima, Peru when Honda driver Christian Kobashigawa lost control of his vehicle and “crashed against a tire barrier and a small sand bank, causing the car to go airborne... No one was hurt.”
1. Pro surfer almost slammed by abandoned jet ski
It's not just landlubbers who are in danger of being killed by vehicles. Tahitian surfer Raimana Van Bastolaer dodged death by inches in 2005, narrowly missing having his head taken off by a jet ski that loomed up behind him before it splintered into the shallow reef. The death-defying incident occurred after Van Bastolaer was towed into the 12-foot swell in Teahupoo, French Polynesia. The jet ski driver got caught in the lip of the wave, sending the driverless craft pitching into the path of the surfer, who ducked into the wave at the last second to escape unharmed. Rad isn't the word.