The Earthquake Showed Him Two Sides Of Humanity
The Earthquake Showed Him Two Sides Of Humanity

"Since I've lived in Chile, I've become used to earthquakes happening. Perhaps, in some countries, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale is something big, but over here, it's kind of normal. There was this one, however, that I will never forget. It was about an 8.8 on the Richter scale and happened in Santiago. I was a native of the Northern Region (which is also where most of the earthquakes happen). So, the way that the construction is done over here, everything is especially resistant to earthquakes. Santiago wasn't like that, though, since they rarely experienced any movement.

I was going to a concert in Santiago and was staying at a friend's department for a week. It was February 27, 2010, at 3:33 AM. We were chilling with my friend (and some of his other friends) when, all of a sudden, all of the lights went off. We originally thought that maybe the building's electricity was malfunctioning, but looking through the large windows, we could see that all of the city had gone dark.

I don't know if you guys have ever been in an apartment building during a huge earthquake, but it feels like being on top of a wet noodle that constantly moves from one side to another. The first thing I thought was: 'Stay away from the large windows and go under the table' while my friend and his friends were screaming. I tried to keep them calm by telling them that everything was going to be okay and that earthquakes were usually short, so we just needed to wait in safety. Boy, was I was wrong, The earthquake lasted three minutes, and it was the longest three minutes of my life.

When it finished, I was relieved. I checked if everyone was okay, and they were. The whole incident was just super scary. I asked my friend Ben if we needed to get out. Ben gave me the reason and packed up a backpack with some supplies. As he was getting his backpack, his friends just ran off to get to their families. He told them to stop and that we needed to stay cool and together. However, the need for them to see their families was greater, which I totally understand. Ben finished packing, and we started to run towards the emergency stairs. We were making our way and using our cell phones to illuminate the hallways. Suddenly, Ben stopped me from out of nowhere.

I asked him, 'What's wrong?'

He just replied, 'Look,' while pointing the flash of the phone to the floor.

It was just like in the movies. The building was split in half. I yelled as he fell on his knees while looking at the bottom of the building and his friends, who were in the rush to see their families, didn't notice that the building was in half and fell down a hole. We were expecting the worst. Ben started crying, and I was in shock. Just 30 minutes ago, I was hanging out with them totally laughing, and now, I was just looking at their bodies. An infinity of screams and cries created the atmosphere that was for the rest of that night. We made our way down through the holes in the building, and while doing so, we tried to help as many people as we possibly could. Some who were trapped by giant stones, and some who were already dead. The one image that will forever stick in my mind forever, is that of a mother hugging her daughter (in order to protect her), and unfortunately, finding both of them dead.

We arrived at the place where Ben's friends had fallen, and thank God, they were still alive. They did have many broken bones, but they were alive. We took them, one by one, to the road and waited for help from the police, military, medics or fireman to arrive. Lucky for us, we were all alive. I watched and experienced two sides of humanity that day. Those who will try everything to help others in any way possible, and on the flip side, those who will take advantage of the situation just to steal stuff from destroyed homes."

My Plane Landed And Then Flipped
My Plane Landed And Then Flipped

"My plane landed in a field and flipped. We were flying in a single-engine Cessna 210. My family was on the final leg of a two-week camping trip. My dad, who was piloting, had started the descent down when at 3,000 feet, our engine started rattling uncontrollably. 10-year-old me remembers seeing the oil temperature gauge in the red but not understanding the significance. As the rattling got worse, my dad shut the engine off and radioed 'Mayday' to the tower. That was when I started to pray. We were only about 5 miles away from our final destination, but we had to make an emergency landing in a field. I remember staring out the window at the ground thinking about my cat, and my mom leaning back from the co-pilot seat telling my brother and me to pull our legs up for the crash position. My dad exchanged a few other words with the controller, and then shut the rest of the plane down.

We hit the ground a little fast at 80 knots (normal is 65-70 knots). Our front gear struck an irrigation pipe running across the field causing it to shear off. Without a front gear, our nose hit the field, and we went belly-side up. When I came to, everything was eerily dark, and I was hanging upside down. My dad basically ripped the doors off the back of the plane to get my brother and me out. My family was shaken up, but we were okay.

A farmer appeared minutes later, and he was absolutely astonished. Then five news helicopters starting circling. Traffic was backed up for miles around the field as people strained to get a look. Then the paramedics arrived. My mom likes to joke that they were a bit disappointed to find 'victims of a plane crash' to be standing around chatting. The worst injury of the lot was my cut lip, which I cut with my own teeth, due to the jolt of the crash, and my parents had some bruising from their seat belts that showed up a few days later.

The farmer's wife gave my brother and I some 'Cheez-its' and honey sticks. Until today, I still can't eat them. Also, the first thing that I did once I got back home was hug my cat (as any 10-year-old would have).

I got my pilot's license three years ago at the age of 18. I'm now in school to become an aerospace engineer and hope to one-day design planes that save people like the one that saved my life. It failed in the most elegant of ways, and my dad's quick thinking and training was what was able to see us to the ground alive. So, what exactly happened to our plane? Well, an unidentified object had actually clogged the oil filter in the engine, leading to a piston overheating, snapping, and punching a hole in the side of the engine.

Stuck In A Bushfire


Stuck In A Bushfire

"I was stuck in a bushfire in Australia. My significant other, our infant son, and I were in the car evacuating on the only road out of our small town. We had very little warning as the fire had started moving really quickly. There was fire coming from the right side of the road and so much smoke everywhere that we could hardly see. My significant other was driving, and luckily, he saw that the truck in front of us had stopped and was also able to stop in time before we hit it.

A semi-trailer truck (18 wheeler) had jack-knifed in the road and was blocking the way. We couldn't see if anyone was inside the truck. and I was going to get out and check, but the fire was now on the right of the roadside, too (and fortunately, years of fire safety education reminded me that we should just stay in our car). We had a UHF radio, so we tried to contact the truck using that but had no response.

The fire started to blow across the road and ignite the bush to our left as well. There were embers raining down on our car. We just stared at them bouncing off the car bonnet. I saw a flashing red glow in the smoke beyond the truck, and it took a minute or so for me to work out what I was seeing. It was a fire service truck. I had to fight every bit of instinct inside of me which was screaming at me to grab my baby, hide him inside my clothes, and run towards the red lights. I doubt I would have made it. The fire was literally blowing around in front of us, and if that wasn't the strongest instinct I've ever felt, I just sat there in the car repeating over and over to myself, 'Stay in the car, stay in the car.'

My significant other managed to contact the firemen on the UHF to alert them of our presence. They sprayed water over us while a secondary truck drove through the burning scrub and around the big truck before finally reaching us. The rest was all a blur. We were transferred to their truck and drove out of there watching the bushfire raging behind us. I was watching the news in the hospital when they reported that two deceased people were found in that same semi-trailer truck. It was volunteer firefighters that saved our lives."

The Boat Snapped In Two, Leaving Them Stranded In Freezing Waters
The Boat Snapped In Two, Leaving Them Stranded In Freezing Waters

"When I was 9, we were traveling from our cabin back to town on an open boat. This was right before Easter. About 45 minutes into the trip, the seas were rough, and the boat had a built-in flaw that caused it to break into two pieces due to the pounding of the waves. I sat facing the back, so I didn't actually see it break. I just suddenly had water up to my waist.

When I turned around, the nose was floating a couple of meters away from the boat. My mom's husband, at the time, just said, 'Jump.' So, we all did, straight into the dark and freezing cold waters of the North Sea. We jumped as far away from the boat as we could. This was by far the scariest moment.

Her husband managed to launch two emergency rockets before the boat vanished below him. He was a very poor swimmer, and even though we tried to hold onto him, he got away due to the large waves that were constantly covering us. After that, it was about 10 minutes of trying to swim to shore (which was about 400 meters away) before realizing that we were never going to make it. After that, we basically dodged waves and made bad tasting jokes.

We saw people on the shore and cars stopped on the highway. The last thing I remembered before blacking out was a boat approaching. Then I woke up in the hospital basically thrashing around from all of the cramps my body was having trying to warm up. Apparently, I had a temp of 27 degrees when they brought me in. My mom was awake the whole time. She lost control of her limbs right after I blacked out and gripped a rope from my lifejacket with her teeth so that I wouldn't float away.

An old fisherman in a house by the shore, who had seen the whole thing, was desperately trying to get a hold of rescue services. However, no one was where they were supposed to be. His wife, having lost both her previous husband and also a son at sea, had some kind of a health issue while watching us swim around. So, he had to take care of her while simultaneously trying to get us help.

The most amazing part, though, was how we got rescued. One of my mom's husband's friends got a call about what was happening. He got in his boat with his 8-month pregnant wife and went full speed to our location. The boat was not designed for high seas. It was more of a 'summer type' cabin cruiser. So, he had to steer it towards the waves at all times. His wife then proceeded to pull three fully-clothed people up to safety, including my unconscious self.

If anyone has ever tried pulling someone out of the water, then you know how difficult it can be. My mom had torn a bunch of stuff in her back, and her husband ended up swallowing about 4-liters of salt water and was also sick for a week. But, most importantly, we all survived.

Suddenly, The Engines Began Powering Down
Suddenly, The Engines Began Powering Down

"I was pilot-in-command of a small Cessna. I was taking my dad out for his first sightseeing ride on an October evening. He'd taken the backseat in one of my training sessions before, but this was the first time that the two of us were alone together and at liberty to go as we pleased.

After a while, I noticed that the engine had lost 300 RPM. I pushed the throttle to the max but no change. I turned on the carb heat, and again, nothing. I began heading back to the airport, but as the power slowly diminished, I knew that we weren't going to make it back by a long shot. In conclusion, I had to get that bird down somewhere. It was night time. Beneath me were patches of fields or forest (I couldn't tell which it was because of the evening darkness). I opted for the only well-lit place in the circumstances and that was the freeway.

I made my emergency call, got a response, told my dad what I was about to do, and proceeded to fly the airplane. By the time I was on my so-called final approach, the engine was puttering along at a measly 1000 RPM despite a full-open throttle. All I had to do was to follow a slight bend in the freeway, to the left, which was just past a viaduct, and I'd have three open lanes of a road on which to land and probably surprise a few drivers along the way.Then, all of a sudden, huge black bars suddenly showed up in my field of vision followed by bright white flashes of light. The aircraft had just struck high-voltage power lines. By the time I was done screaming, the aircraft had rolled down into a side ditch and slammed itself against a fence.

The ambulances arrived within a minute, pulled my dad and me out, and raced us to the hospital. I awoke in a dimly-lit hospital room (dimly lit because of the city-wide power failure I had just caused), which I realized once all the other lights turned on later at night and the nurses cheered at getting their power back. Somehow, I didn't break anything though. I had a sore and stiff body for a few weeks, and my back became prone to locking for the next several years. My father had a few broken bones but was judged as stable and set to recover. However, he suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed to his wounds a week later.

I haven't piloted an aircraft since and have no desire to. I can be a passenger in an airliner or a commercial small aircraft without a problem, but my days of flying are over.

Did We Ever Fly Again? You Bet
Did We Ever Fly Again? You Bet

"I survived an airplane crash. My mother owned a few aircrafts and hangars in our small town's airport. I spent a lot of time at the airport while I was growing up, spending summer washing airplanes, sweeping out hangers, etc.

One warm summer afternoon, in the mid-1980's, we planned to take a short flight in her Piper J-3 Cub. This plane was built in the mid-1940's and had an aluminum skeleton covered in fabric and tandem seats with one in front and one in back. I sat in front due to the better view, and my mom, who was the pilot, sat in the back.I remember the pre-flight and some taxiing to the runway, but nothing else.

The rest of the story I had to receive secondhand. Neither my mom nor I remember anything of the actual accident due to the massive head trauma we ended receiving. But what I've heard from family and the ambulance drivers who arrived on the scene, is that on takeoff (which is actually the most dangerous part of any flight) we lost power. The engine cut out (I'm not really sure why). With relatively slow airspeed and no thrust from the engine, we changed from being a beautiful flying machine to a brick rather quickly. Well, we dropped like a brick and proceeded to hit the ground in a rather quick manner.

The ambulance drivers who had arrived on the scene thought we were done for. Things were not looking good, but after a helicopter ride to the nearest trauma center, a hundred miles away, we were still alive and breathing. I spent about five weeks in the hospital but only remembered the last two. As a reminder of what happened, though, I have nasty scars on my lower lip and chin and a dent on the side of my head.

One thing I often find myself wondering is, 'If I had the chance to relive the whole thing over again, would I want to remember?' At this point in my life, I can say I would not. Such things are not worth remembering. Also, did we ever fly again? You bet. As soon as my mom was able to pass a flight physical, we were both up in the air again."

Swam Against A Tsunami
Swam Against A Tsunami

"When I was a very young child, I lived in South East Asia. One day, early in the morning, I was just playing. My parents must have been doing their morning prayers, when the next thing I knew, the entirety of the ocean was spilling over itself. We lived on the coast at this time, and it was like the whole ocean had just lifted out.

My dad grabbed me and ran towards a block of apartments at the end of the street. I don't know what happened to my mom, but she must have been unable to run fast enough because I'm pretty sure she got overwhelmed by the tide and survived by holding on to a tree. I'm not entirely sure how she survived actually because, looking back on the extent of the 2004 tsunami, she should have been swept away completely by the force of the water.

Anyway, I was now on the top of this roof. My dad went back in and swam to our house in order to retrieve our passports and documents. All the while, the water kept creeping up. I think it was a four or five-story building, and the water must have reached the second or third floor. He must have been a really strong swimmer because he got pretty much all of our documents in between the waves (and I think he probably saved my mum as well?). After that, we were able to stay with some friends who were already a good distance away. Unfortunately, everything in town was destroyed.

I realized now that this is one of the reasons why my parents don't bring up any of my childhood friends or try to keep in contact with their family. It's because they're all dead. This is pretty much the only really vivid memory I have had from that age, and for a long time after that, my parents kind of had a fear of the sea. They couldn't handle watching any videos of the flooding. My mum is doing absolutely fine now, though. She is actually learning how to swim!

A Sinking Feeling
A Sinking Feeling

"I was on a boat that sank on the Mekong river in South East Asia. It was a two-day trip with an overnight stop as it was too dangerous to be on the river after dark. We stayed in a bar and got extremely wasted as there was a serious tropical storm that knocked the power out in this tiny village on the banks of the river.

The following morning, we set off on the final leg of the journey. Everyone was feeling pretty terrible after drinking way too much, so we were all trying to catch a few hours of sleep while on the boat. Around an hour or two into the journey, the boat rolled quite heavily over to one side, and some cups and glasses slid off the tables and fell onto the floor which startled most people awake. We picked the stuff up off of the floor and went back to sleep.

I'm not really sure how much later but the same thing happened again, and this time, it was even more violent. The boat rolled over so heavily that I slid from one side to another and smashed into a table that was on the now-lower side of the boat. At this point, I noticed the water had started to come over the side and was getting deeper. Everyone was looking around at each other pretty terrified, not knowing what to do. The water level was probably waist height. I told my girlfriend to get out of the boat and swim to the banks of the river, I helped her climb out the high side of the boat and onto the roof as the lower side was now pretty much fully submerged.

At this point, I realized I was stuck between the table that I had smashed into and a bench that had fallen on top of my leg as the water now was also getting towards shoulder height, and the boat sinking pretty rapidly. I took a final breath and went down with the boat. It's hard to say how long, but it probably sank for about a minute or two.

Luckily, as the boat fully sank, the benches and tables started to float and move away from each other, and I got free without too much trouble. I opened my eyes, and all I could see was brown dirty water with some sunlight in the distance. I swam towards it while being careful not to knock my head on anything and knock myself out. I tried to swim horizontally until I was sure I was clear from the boat before I tried for the surface. I managed to pop up not that far away from the river bank.

I looked around and saw a few of the other passengers being swirled around in the rough current trying to grab anything that was floating to save themselves and calling out for help. I'm a pretty terrible swimmer so realized trying to help anyone else would probably just end in them dragging me down with them so struggled and eventually made it to the bank. I made it, but I didn't have the energy to pull myself out of the water. I half got onto some rocks and waited to catch my breath. Some of the other passengers that had made it out of the water ran over to tell me my girlfriend, who was safe further downstream, thanks to the guy who was driving the boat. He had jumped in and pulled her out.

Some background detail on the boat, it was run by a young family that lived onboard, as is customary in large parts of SE Asia. It's considered rude to wear your shoes inside someone's house. As a consequence, we had to remove our shoes when boarding the boat. We were now trying to traverse the rocky banks of the river with no shoes while trying to find other passengers.

Anyway, the captain of the boat, at this stage, was screaming at the river because he didn't know if his wife and two children had made it off of the boat before it sank. We came across them later on. His wife had somehow managed to make it off with her baby slung over her back and her young son.

After a while, we managed to flag down another passing boat. Initially, they didn't stop, but I think they must have started to see random bits of floating debris from the boat, realized what had happened, and then came back for us. Further down the river, we found more passengers that had been rescued by some local fishermen. We tried to account for everyone and quickly worked out that everyone was pretty much present except for one girl who no one had seen during the scramble to get off the boat. We boarded the boat that we had managed to flag down and left for the next nearest large town where we would be able to get in contact with our countries embassies. There was zero phone signal around here, and all our phones were either in the river or completely soaked. The embassies were over 6 hours away, though. The local fishermen promised us they would search for the missing passenger.

Having made it to the next town, after a pretty long day by this point, we were greeted by the local police in plain clothes as it was Songkran, and everyone was celebrating by having a huge three-day water fight. They took some details and told us to come to the station in a few days. We ended up sitting around for days sorting out loads of stuff as our passports were lost, and all of the local places that could do anything were closed. Once we got enough documents that allowed us to move on and fly to the capital, we had to go to our consulate to sort out our new travel documents and assist in the matter about the missing passenger with her friends that had made it off the boat (she was from the same country). After a few days, the consulate informed us that a body had been found. Unfortunately, it was the missing passenger and that was a pretty devastating experience to take along with the additional stress that everyone was currently going through.

After a few weeks, we luckily managed to get new passports without flying home, which we were informed was the standard procedure for my countries passport office and going home to get a full passport wasn't really an option as we were around five weeks into a 7-month trip. It was was a pretty fun six months after that, although I did end up in some other pretty dangerous situations. We were also on two buses that crashed, and a friend of mine that came and met us for a month was involved in a pretty nasty motorbike accident."

Living With The After Effects Was Worse Than The Crash
Living With The After Effects Was Worse Than The Crash

"I was in a plane crash in 2013. Three friends and I had taken a Cessna to interior BC for the long weekend, and one of my friends had their private pilots license.

On the day that we were heading home, it was quite hot, and the plane was (according to investigators) over-loaded and over-fueled for the heat/altitude. Once we reached approximately 2,000 feet above takeoff, we began losing airspeed. The pilot panicked and did some steep turns in an attempt to gain some speed, but it scrubbed nearly all of our altitude pretty much instantly. Now, at a few hundred feet and descending rapidly, the pilot took aim at a farmers field. They managed to level out at around tree height, but we were quickly running out of open field. There was maybe a hundred or so meters before the end of it. They dropped the plane to the ground, the nose dug in, and we flipped end-to-end.

I ended up walking away essentially unscathed with just some minor bruising from the seat belt and some small scratches. The pilot had a pretty good cut and bashed their knee up on the dashboard. The front passenger, who was my girlfriend, took pretty much all the brunt of it. Her seat ripped off the floor which smashed her against the roof. It shredded the ligaments inside one side of her neck, compressed her spine, and concussed her badly. The ligaments were bad and are still causing issues her five years later.

However, it was the post-concussion issues that were the worse. Watching someone you love lose the ability to read, remember what they had for breakfast, or whether or not they HAD breakfast, maintain any semblance of emotional stability, or even do something like play a board game to pass the time (learning and remembering rules was too stressful) was the worst thing I've ever had to experience. It took a solid two years before things started returning to what I would call normal."

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