Closest Brush with Death?

I’ve been scared a few times, but have never felt death was imminent. I’ve been in 3 car accidents, coming away completely uninjured in all 3 cases. When I was a child I was hit by a car but suffered only minor scrapes and bruises. During my stint as a gas station cashier, I had a gun pulled on me. That was probably the most scared I’ve been, but I didn’t get a “this is it” feeling.

My wife told me that as she was spinning out on a steep mountain road, she thought “well, it was a good life.” She came away unscathed, but I’ve always been impressed with that “final” thought.
I think I’ve been pretty lucky so far.

At the end of my first semester at college, I tried to kill myself. I took a whole bunch of pills with high levels of pseudoephedrine in the hopes that my heart would explode. Whatever I took also had a bit of DXM, so I had an interesting trip on the way down.

I tried so hard not to puke, but eventually it all came out. Then I passed out only to wake up to my older brother. My bitch roommate had threatened one of my friends to call the RA and get me kicked out of school. My friend talked her into calling my brother. God that sucked.

A few years ago, (I was thirteen, I believe), my aunt got sucked out in a rip tide when we were on vacation. She was in her late forties, a tad over weight, and not a good swimmer at all, with no experience when it came to swimming in the ocean at all. I swam after her with my surfboard because I knew she’d panic and couldn’t swim back in herself. After I caught up with her she was to scared and too tired out (she was wearing my dad’s wet suit and it was too large for her and bogged her down) to swim back in under her own power. She wound up clinging like a barnacle to the back of my board, screaming for help, while tried to swim both of us in. She wasn’t helping at all and the current was too strong, and we kept getting pushed further and further back.

My dad soon saw there was something wrong, swam out after both of us, and between he and I, we managed to haul my aunt back to shore at roughly the same time the rescue team arrived. The whole affair took maybe 25 minutes–from the suck-out point to hitting the beach again. The water was about 55 degrees, but I’d had a wetsuit on. My dad didn’t. Everybody was okay and it was a happy ending and all that fun stuff.

I myself wasn’t that close to death (I’m a good swimmer and didn’t panic, and if I’d had to, could have swum myself back in) but just the same, it’s the closest I’ve come to dying, and it was even closer for my aunt and probably my father as well. And my mother for that matter, who nearly had a heart attack in the meantime.

Whitewater rafting.
I came very close to drowning in a swift current. I fought and fought, but could not escape.
I can’t forget what it was like to finally figure out, “This is the moment you’re going to die.”
I thought for sure it was curtains for me. I still wanted to live, but couldn’t get out of the water. When I lost all strength and went down for the last time, I found a current that favored me.
That was maybe seven years ago.

One collision, nearly head-on, at about 40 mph with a conversion van, I was driving a Sunbird weighing less than half of the van. No air bags in my car, just a seat belt. The front end of my car was swayed almost twelve inches. After the initial impact the van continued on its way, spinning my car like a toy, which hit the van again, this time with the left rear of my car.

At the time it became apparent that a collision was inevitable, I do recall screaming “Oh my God!” It was over a few seconds or so later, I guess. My car was wrecked but I got out of the car without a scratch. Other than residual back problems, I escaped unscathed. No one seeing the wrecked car or witnessing the collision could believe I had survived.

Spooky one: I was between colleges and working the closing shift at a fast food place one summer. A bunch of high school kids, one who worked there, asked me to give them a ride to a party after work. We all piled into my mom’s very sporty Cavalier Type 10 and were on our way.

We were on a quiet two lane stopped at a red light when an older, full size rwd V8 pulled up next to us in the right turn lane, but did not turn. Looking like he wanted to race, foolishly I did not let him down. The light went green and we both went out hot, but I couldn’t keep up with him and he beat us pretty badly. In another brain surgeon move, I decided to try to pass this guy. On a double yellow. Up a hill. As we crested the hill, I saw the headlights of another car closing on us rapidly in our lane from seemingly about five or so feet away. When the headlights were so close they bathed the interior of our car with a bright white light, I turned hard to the right and somehow, miraculously, IMHO, missed everybody. No one in the car ever said a word about the incident at the time and all refused to ever discuss it.

Then there was the summer night when my parents kicked me out of the house while I was wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts. They locked and bolted all the windows and doors and refused to give me the keys to my car. Too embarassed to knock on a neighbor’s door, I decided to try to sleep in a shelter in a park close by, but it was too cold, in the 50’s. I returned to my parent’s house hoping to find an unlocked door but no luck. Not realising the risk of exposure, I was too scared to ring the door bell or try to break in, figuring my parents would call the cops. I went to the back of the house and slept on the concrete patio, luckily finding a single ply garbage bag which I slept in all night. I remember when I stopped shivering and stopped feeling cold. The next morning I was shaking like a leaf. My mother let me in and I ran to the bathroom but could not feel the temperature of the water in the shower. So, I fell asleep on a couch under a mountain of blankets.

I found an apartment that afternoon and moved out within two days.

I was driving my 240-Z to Calgary once, and I hit a freak snowstorm at 70 mph. Lost control of the car, and it went across into the oncoming lane - with a truck coming straight at us. Lucky for me, the car continued across the road and I wound up in the opposite ditch, shaken up but uninjured. The car needed new front fenders because the snow in the ditch blew them both off the car.

Another time I was flying an airplane at night in Northern Alberta, and a freak weather system that wasn’t on any of the weather SA’s or FD’s hit us. I would up flying into Slave Lake at about 800 ft by following the Athabasca river in the dark. That was pretty scary.

First time: I was about 5 years old and being babysat by some lady. She told her 12 (or so) year old son to take me swimming in their inground pool. I couldn’t swim yet, but he assured me it would be okay to let him take me out to the deep end, he would hold my hands and not let go. He promised. We got out to the deep end and he just…let go. I sunk like a stone. I remember thinking how blurry yet somehow bright things looked down there. I held my breath (instinctively, I suppose) until I had no choice but to breathe in. It burned terribly and the next thing I know I was on the grass beside the pool coughing and puking. I told his mother what happened but don’t recall if she believed me or what if anything she did about her psychotic son.

Second time: I was a foolish 13 year old girl, trying to impress my foolish 14 year old BF. He had a (IIRC) Suzuki PE 250 off-road motorcycle and an old Enduro. He spent the morning teaching me to ride the Enduro. That afternoon, he decided I was ready for the big bike. I had a bad feeling but got on anyway. I took a steep hill going way too fast and shot into the air like a cannon. I remember my legs rising from the foot pedals, my boots kicked my hands which were frozen on the grips. I hit the ground hard and shot forward up another hill, where my I smashed my helmeted head into the underside of Highway 401 which sort of intersected with the hill. (This was in the Rouge Valley, anyone familiar with Toronto will know where that is) I woke up way down at the bottom of the hill, my BF crying and freaking out. He thought I’d been killed. The helmet was utterly demolished. The bike only suffered a busted throttle cable. I somehow got away with minor head and neck injuries.

Driving to Michigan to visit a friend in a light snowfall. The roads were clear, but somehow it never penetrated my little pea brain that the roads were clear because the steady traffic was preventing the snow from building up. I saw my exit, hit the off-ramp - where there WAS no traffic, so there WAS snow - spun in several circles across a six lane major highway during rush hour. I saw headlights and taillights thisclose to my car, but nothing hit me and I hit nothing else. The car came to rest in oncoming traffic, and several cars had to swerve to avoid me. I regrouped, pulled my car back onto the correct side of the highway, pulled onto the shoulder and parked, waiting for my heart to start again.

My three-year-old daughter, in the carseat in the back, giggled. “Do it again, Mommy!”

Uh, no.

October 26th, 1963, and my friends and I decided to ride ramps on our bikes. One didn’t work out so well for me, and I landed on a handlebar. It took out 2/3 of my liver (the main attraction) as well as damaging my spine and collapsing a lung. I developed pancreatitus soon thereafter, and within a year had healing difficulties that called for removal of my appendix.

They told my parents that I was a goner.

I fooled 'em.

I was driving my Alfa Romeo up a mountain road. Entering a high banked, sharp left-hand corner, the right rear tire hit a patch of gravel and dirt and lost traction. My car spun around about 270°, the engine stalled and I ended up sitting squarely across the oncoming lane. Next I noticed that a semi truck had just rounded the corner ahead and was headed right for e. He locked up his brakes and managed to stop about 10 feet from my door. The whole thing happened in about five seconds.

Orange Skinner, it sounds like you tried to swim straight in. Here’s how to survive a riptide. “If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore.” This quote from here. Just in case you didn’t know that.
The closest I ever came to getting killed was a year ago. There’s a large 6 lane one way road through Honolulu called King St. I was crossing in a marked cross walk but without a light. I looked down the road and saw no cars coming and began to cross looking in the direction of the traffic.

After a few steps into the road I began to look forward when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Without thinking I leaped back about 3 feet as this complete and utter moron in a pick-up truck backing up down the road going as fast as he could missed me by less then a foot. He didn’t see me until I was parallel to the cab door. He gave me a “whoops” look before stopping and taking the turn he missed.

Now I can’t say that if I hadn’t happened to catch him out of the corner of my eye that I would have died but it would have at least been very close.

I’ve also almost been swept out in a very rough sea except my Dad managed to grab my hair before I went out. And I came within a hair’s bredth of flipping my car at 85 mph with about 4 18-wheelers behind me due to a front left flat. In all cases I never thought for a moment that I was about to die. It was only later after everything worked out that I thought to myself “Wow, that was close.” I also had a wicked case of Scarlet fever as an infant but the first one is the one that scared me the most.

I once stared down a supremely pissed rattlesnake. It was actually the best laugh I’d had all month, and I still remember that time when I truly had my life in my hands as a rather positive, uplifting experience. Being prepared to die, being prepared to decide for yourself which risks you are willing to take and which actions you are prepared to carry out, is an immensely freeing experience.

Well, that and the fact I looked about as fearsome as Curly from the Three Stooges. :smiley:

Hell, the only such moment I’ve had was in retrospect. Lemme set the scene:

Probably 10 years ago, I had a new engine put in my car. It was a tiny, crappy car, and putting a new engine in was a relatively-inexpensive way to squeeze some more life out of it. Anyway, after the new engine was in, it ran fine for about a week.

Now, at the time, I lived in a house way out in the boondocks. The mailbox was a pretty decent walk from the house. Since I was the first one home that day, I stopped on the way to the house to get the mail. I then got back in my car and started into our driveway.

No sooner was I in the driveway than the car sort of collapsed on the right side. I got out to see what had happened. You know how normally all your car’s tires point in the same direction? Well, the passenger-side front wheel wasn’t. It was completely perpendicular to the rest of the car. It wasn’t because the tire had come off; basically, the wheel was completely disconnected from the frame. There was quite a deep divot where the frame of the car had dragged in the dirt for about two feet.

Further examination revealed that the whole wheel assembly, or whatever you call it, had come unbolted from the frame of the car. However, there was no nut or bolt or any piece of one in the area. We could only conclude that the wheel had never been properly bolted to the frame after the engine replacement.

It’s a very, very good thing for me that that happened in my driveway at 10 MPH rather than on my drive home from work at 70 MPH. I can’t imagine coming out of that alive; my lightweight little car would have done NASCAR-esque end-over-end flips.

Well, a couple of times in cars I have come almost cloes to death. The first was my senior year of high school. Some friends and I went to the movies, and on the way there, I took a turn that should have been 35 MPH at 60 MPH. Spun the car around a couple of times and I skidded off the road. The underside of my car hit a large rock, whoch stopped us. If the rock had not been there, the car would have gone down a steep, 50 foot or so embacement. Also, if it was a tree or telephone pole instead of a rock, or if there was an oncoming car, somoene might have died. Especially since two of the people didn’t have their seatbelts on (altough if I had known that at the time I was driving they would have been wearing them…they lied to me :mad: )

The second time in a car was last spring. I went to visit my GF, and it snowed on the way there. On the way back, I skidded across the road (I later came to find it’s because the alignment was off.) A truck came withink 50 feet of hitting me, and the dirver’s side as facing the oncoming traffic. Scary. Come to think of it, both of those times were in Subaru station wagons…different cars, but same model and similar year.

A non-car related incident was when I was in fifth grade. I went sledding at the local hill, and on that hill is a jump that is fun to go off of. Well, as I was getting rady to go down the hill, someone decided to give me a huge push. Needles to say, as the sled went up, so did I, as the sled went down, so did I…just not with it. I hit the ground (and the ice on top of it) and hit it hard. I conked my head pretty hard cause I don’t remember the next five minutes, but apparantly I screemed out that I couldn’t breath, and couldn’t move, etc…Well, I was carried up the hill by the kids there on a sled…getting dropped on the way up (I hope the paramedics yelled at them for doing that to…very dangerous to move inujured people.) As it turned out, it was just a broken collar bone, but I was very close to snapping my neck, or hitting my head hard enough to do serious damage. And come to think of it, the bomne probably didn’t even snap unitl those damn kids dropped me…lousy, no good kids…

Well, I was married once…

Seriously though…

  1. On my way to work, northbound on the Dan Ryan, crossing the steel bridge. It was an early sunday in the middle of January, and freezing cold. I was driving in the right lane at about 70 when I hit a large patch of ice just as I approached the bridge. I spun 360, looking out over the river, a scrap yard and the cars behind me, and continued along northbound like nothing happened. Freaky.

  2. I was in a structure fire , working with a crew on the first floor of a three flat home. We were pulling ceiling board down to expose the structural members when the floor below me gave way and sent me into the basement, which was on fire as well as full of old paint and fuel cans and tires. I was able to get a hoseline dropped through the hole I made in the floor and darken down the fire, and waited until I got a ladder to get out of the basement that had apparently been sealed over.

a few years ago i worked in a conservation park an hour outside montreal, cutting trees and maintaining trails and generally getting kicked around. our boss was raised in the laurentian foothills by the yeti himself, and the whole job was basically an extended brush with death. one day we were clearing the brush to make way for a mammoth parking lot, cutting small trees (about nine feet long and as big around as a kid’s arm at their widest) with hedge trimmers, which had the unfortunate effect of sharpening the trunks to a point; unfortunate because a coworker, who, though exceedingly bright, was hopelessly malcoordinated AND built like a linebacker, was tossing felled trees to me to be piled and later BURNED WITH DIESEL FUEL AND A BLOWTORCH. one slipped and (think javelin toss) flew straight at my head, catching me in the jaw, tearing my face open and loosening some teeth. he cried and apologized profusely while i spit out blood and shards of bone. what didn’t occur to us (and certainly not to our highly sensitive boss, who gave me five minutes to clean up and get back to work) was that had i not suppressed the usual instinct to turn one’s head away from a pointed projectile hurtling toward it, it would have severed my jugular and crushed my windpipe; had it hit two inches higher, it would have plowed through my eye into whatever’s behind it. as it was, it didn’t even leave a scar.

With me, it wasn’t half as spectacular, but close nevertheless.
Two years ago, my thyroid went haywire on me. Hyperthyreosis means that your body goes into total overdrive, as the thyroid gland controls a lot of other glands in your body (basically speaking).

Unfortunately, four doctors I went to did not recognize it. Hence, for about a month I was not able to sleep at all, was shaking so bad I could not hold anything containing liquids, could not get up without anybody helping me, had a pulse of 200 while sitting down and people who were in the same room with me complained that my heart was beating so loudly.

When finally a doctor realized my condition he told me if I didn’t get surgery immediately I would last maybe a week more and then I’d die. By that time, though, I was so exhausted I just did not care about anything.

After surgery, I had this thought: “If you consider Darwin, I’m just a mistake of evolution. I was supposed to die and I didn’t because of modern medicine. Basically, I cheated nature.” It put some things into perspective for me, but I did somehow never develop the “gift of a new life makes you appreciate things more” approach.

When I was a child in the early 70’s (before seatbelts), I was leaning on the car door half-asleep as my dad was taking me to school. I jiggled the car door handle and fell out of the vehicle which was going about 40 miles an hour. Rolled a pretty good distance and got banged up pretty good, and the car coming behind us had to swerve to miss me. Needless to say I got to lay out of school that day.

Around the age of 16, I would go with a bunch of friends and hop on 4 wheelers and just sort of drive around the vast openness of Colorado. In the middle of nowhere, we stopped to open up water bottles, shoot the breeze, and enjoy the scenery. After about 5 minutes of sitting astride the ATVs, I looked down to notice a rattlesnake curled up 2 feet away from my leg. Hitting panic mode, I leapt into action, started the ATV and took off. That caused the snake to panic and strike, hitting the gas tank which was about 6 inches behind my ankle. A rattlesnake bite without a hospital anywhere close may not have ended well.

hmm… I was hit by a car when I was 13, flipped over the windshield and was almost pegged by the car behind the one that hit me.

Investigating a partial detonation of improvised explosives (I was in the army at the time) in the dark was scary.

Falling down a 60 foot cliff. Well, sliding down it after I fell off and feeling the shale slice parts of my body open was bad.

Feeling my van start to slide sideways in a freak snowstorm at 60 mph, with my brother, sister in law and daughter in the vehicle was extremely bad.
Evacuating from a chemical plant with acetylene cylinders detonating and going off like rockets wasn’t good either.

I need a more sedate life, I think.