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Old 01-05-2008, 09:56 AM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Surviving a fall from a tall building - should the Master update his column?

In the Straight Dope column "Could you jump off a bridge or a tall building and survive the fall? (11-Mar-2005)",
Cecil Adams says
Quote:
Beyond a certain point even Olympic form won't save you. One expert claims the upper limit for surviving water entry is around 80 mph. Presumably it's less if you're hitting something solid. Still, the literature teems with spectacular exceptions:
* In a 1942 paper, physiologist Hugh De Haven told of eight people who survived falls of 50 to 150 feet on dry land, many with only minor injuries. The common denominator: something to break the fall or soften the impact, such as loose dirt, the hood of a car, or, in one astonishing but verified case, an iron bar, metal screens, a skylight, and a metal-lath ceiling.
Well, we may have a new record. From the Daily News (New York City, NY, USA)
Window washer who fell 47 floors likely to walk again says stunned doctor
By CHRISTINA BOYLE, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, Friday, January 4th 2008, 4:00 AM

And from Associated Press
Man awake, talking after 47-floor fall
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer, 3 January 2008
(The Associated Press story is carried in many outlets: here's one link)

37-year-old Alcides Moreno, a window washer, fell 47 stories (almost 500 feet or 152 metres) from the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper on 7 December 2006. He and his brother (Edgar Moreno, 30, of Linden N.J.) were washing the windows of the Solow Residences on East 66th Street when cables connecting their 16-foot-long aluminum swing to the roof broke. Neither was wearing a safety harness. Edgar died instantly in the fall (and is now buried in Ecuador, where the brothers were from.) Alcides Moreno broke both legs, his right arm and his right wrist, and also had severe injuries to his chest, abdomen and spinal column. His brain was bleeding. At New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, he underwent at least 14 operations in 28 days, and was in a coma for weeks.
Quote:
The death rate from even a three-story fall is about 50 percent, [chief of surgery, Dr. Philip] Barie said. People who fall more than 10 stories almost never survive.
"Forty-seven floors is virtually beyond belief," [hospital president Dr. Herbert] Pardes said.
Now, almost a month later, Alcides Moreno is scheduled for more surgery, but doctors believe he will walk again, and are "optimistic for a very substantial recovery, eventually".

So, does anyone know stories of a fall from a greater height than that, where the person landed on solid ground and survived?
  #2  
Old 01-05-2008, 10:09 AM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
So, does anyone know stories of a fall from a greater height than that, where the person landed on solid ground and survived?
Does the edge of a ravine count?
Quote:
Lt. I.M. Chisov was a Russian airman whose Ilyushin IL-4 bomber was attacked by German fighters in January of 1942. Falling nearly 22,000 feet, he hit the edge of a snow-covered ravine and rolled to the bottom. He was badly hurt but survived.
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Old 01-05-2008, 01:05 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried
So, does anyone know stories of a fall from a greater height than that, where the person landed on solid ground and survived?
According to today's edition of The Guardian, whose story is confirmed in Wikipedia and elsewhere, the highest honour in this category goes to one Vesna Vulović, who lived to tell the tale of a precipitous descent from 33,316 feet.
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Old 01-05-2008, 02:47 PM
AjŪ de Gallina AjŪ de Gallina is offline
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...to think that I tripped, while jogging, and broke my arm in 7 pieces and still have 14 screws and 2 metal plates.
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Old 01-05-2008, 03:26 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
According to today's edition of The Guardian, whose story is confirmed in Wikipedia and elsewhere, the highest honour in this category goes to one Vesna Vulović, who lived to tell the tale of a precipitous descent from 33,316 feet.
Apparently, she was in a section of the plane while she fell.
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Old 01-05-2008, 05:22 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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True.

I did read the Guardian story & the Wiki article and considered the descent worthy of comment.

Incidentally the survival of I.M. Chisov from 22,000 feet is reported in the Cecil column referenced in the OP so perhaps Arnold isn't looking for that one either.
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Old 01-05-2008, 05:53 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
True.

I did read the Guardian story & the Wiki article and considered the descent worthy of comment.

Incidentally the survival of I.M. Chisov from 22,000 feet is reported in the Cecil column referenced in the OP so perhaps Arnold isn't looking for that one either.
Well shoot. I didn't read the linked article. Mea culpa.
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Old 01-07-2008, 04:07 AM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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There just has to be more to this story. My mother had the unfortunate experience of seeing the immediate aftermath of someone jumping off the roof of a hospital that was no more than about 10 stories (less if I recall correctly) onto pavement. It wasn't just a question of broken bones. She said they had just plain splatted as if someone had dropped a human sized plastic bag full of meat from a great height. There was blood and guts sprayed for a radius of dozens of feet. The remains were not immediately recognizable as human, but just a twisted pile of bone fragments and offal.

It will be revealed that he was part caught in a safety harness, or he hit something or several things on the way down, or he landed in shrubs and a garden bed or similar, I'm guessing.
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Old 01-07-2008, 05:52 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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I vaguely remember a very cheesy religiously-themed potboiler novel from the 1970s (a little later than The Exorcist or The Omen) about a NYC skyscraper worker who fell a looooong way down and lived, and was acclaimed as the Second Coming of Christ. Or something.
  #10  
Old 01-07-2008, 07:46 PM
LurkMeister LurkMeister is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir
I vaguely remember a very cheesy religiously-themed potboiler novel from the 1970s (a little later than The Exorcist or The Omen) about a NYC skyscraper worker who fell a looooong way down and lived, and was acclaimed as the Second Coming of Christ. Or something.
The Second Son by Charles Sailor. I can't believe I can still remember it after all these years.
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:53 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Originally Posted by LurkMeister
The Second Son by Charles Sailor. I can't believe I can still remember it after all these years.
That's it! Thanks for digging that up.
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:17 PM
LurkMeister LurkMeister is offline
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You're welcome. For some reason the title has stuck in my head in my head ever since I went nuts trying to remember it a number years ago. I don't think I have a copy, because I seem to remember I had read a friend's copy when it first came out.
  #13  
Old 01-08-2008, 06:23 PM
Arnold Winkelried Arnold Winkelried is offline
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Contrapuntal - your first link didn't work, but I found more information here (as well as in Cecil's article of course)

http://www.173rdairborne.com/amazingpara.htm

All the cases mentioned in this thread so far (or the column) seemed different to me though:
  • Alan Magee fell 20,000 feet but landed on a skylight, so his "landing" was in several stages.
  • I.M. Chisov fell 22,000 feet but landed in snow. The link I give in the second line of this post says: "As luck would have it, he crashed at the edge of a steep ravine covered with 3 ft of snow. Hitting at about 120 mi/h, he plowed along its slope until he came to rest at the bottom." Again, not a sudden stop.
  • Nicholas Alkemade, who leaped from his burning bomber in 1944 without a parachute at 18,000 feet, also fell in snow, and his fall was broken by tree branches.
  • Vesna Vulović was, as Contrapuntal noted, in a section of the plane when she fall. And when you're falling inside something, all you have to do is jump in the air right before impact and then you won't get hurt! As Cecil Adams mentioned in his column about elevators falling.

Whereas the guy in my OP presumably came to a sudden stop on pavement. A different matter altogether.
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Old 10-12-2017, 02:47 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Bumped because the column is back on the SD homepage.

Cecil wrote in 2005, "The free-fall speed record, incidentally, is 614 mph, set in 1960 by Joseph Kittinger, who stepped out of a balloon gondola into the exceedingly thin air at 103,000 feet."

The record has been twice broken since then:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull_Stratos
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Eustace
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Old 10-12-2017, 03:00 PM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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Durn it! I thought Arnold Winkelried had returned.
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:25 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Quoted by the OP:
"The common denominator: something to break the fall or soften the impact, such as loose dirt, the hood of a car, or, in one astonishing but verified case, an iron bar, metal screens, a skylight, and a metal-lath ceiling. "


The hood of a car?!
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:59 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Doesn't always work: http://time.com/3456028/the-most-bea...mmortal-photo/
  #18  
Old 10-12-2017, 05:40 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
That is what I was thinking of, although I remember the picture as being from another angle.
  #19  
Old 10-12-2017, 07:56 PM
erysichthon erysichthon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnold Winkelried View Post
Vesna Vulović was, as Contrapuntal noted, in a section of the plane when she fall. And when you're falling inside something, all you have to do is jump in the air right before impact and then you won't get hurt!
Or you can simply step out the door just before impact (a method I learned from a Tex Avery cartoon many years ago).
  #20  
Old 10-12-2017, 11:48 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
Quoted by the OP:
"The common denominator: something to break the fall or soften the impact, such as loose dirt, the hood of a car, or, in one astonishing but verified case, an iron bar, metal screens, a skylight, and a metal-lath ceiling. "


The hood of a car?!
Itís relatively thin sheet metal. Itís not something I would ever do as an experiment, but the main thing you have to do is stretch the distance you stop in, and several inches is a lot better than zero. (Actually, I vaguely remember this happening in a Dick Tracy strip sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. Gould wasnít a scientist, but, as far as I know, he made an effort to be semi-plausible in his storytelling.)
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Old 10-13-2017, 03:48 PM
glowacks glowacks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy View Post
Itís relatively thin sheet metal. Itís not something I would ever do as an experiment, but the main thing you have to do is stretch the distance you stop in, and several inches is a lot better than zero. (Actually, I vaguely remember this happening in a Dick Tracy strip sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. Gould wasnít a scientist, but, as far as I know, he made an effort to be semi-plausible in his storytelling.)
Yes, I also recall a Dick Tracy strip where someone decides to jump down from a significant distance by landing on the roof of a car. Practically all the Dick Tracy I've read has been from one particular compilation: http://dicktracy.wikia.com/wiki/Dick..._Fiendish_Foes so if one was looking for it, those strips would be the first place to lok.
  #22  
Old 10-13-2017, 05:46 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy View Post
Itís relatively thin sheet metal. Itís not something I would ever do as an experiment, but the main thing you have to do is stretch the distance you stop in, and several inches is a lot better than zero. (Actually, I vaguely remember this happening in a Dick Tracy strip sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. Gould wasnít a scientist, but, as far as I know, he made an effort to be semi-plausible in his storytelling.)
When the woman jumped of the Empire State Building, hoods were more sturdy stuff than the thin metal hoods of today. I wonder which works best. I might be able to flop around on the way down, to try and hit an older car.
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Old 10-14-2017, 01:21 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Don't be like these guys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YqoI84-9vA
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:13 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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I don't have a cite, but a cousin in San Francisco told me back in the '80s of a man there who had recently fallen 20 or 30 floors and lived. His survival was apparently credited to his being drunk at the time, keeping him relaxed enough for when he hit whatever it was that broke his fall. Awning, bush, forget exactly what it was. She said it was in the news.
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:45 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
I don't have a cite, but a cousin in San Francisco told me back in the '80s of a man there who had recently fallen 20 or 30 floors and lived. His survival was apparently credited to his being drunk at the time, keeping him relaxed enough for when he hit whatever it was that broke his fall. Awning, bush, forget exactly what it was. She said it was in the news.
That is supposedly the reason people survive DWI wrecks.
Always drink before you drive!
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Old 10-14-2017, 02:34 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Thanks, I will. Man, I learn all sorts of tips here!
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