Yet Another Urban Legend?

We’ve all heard the story…

A woman’s child is trapped under a heavy vehicle. The woman gets a sudden surge of adrenaline and is able to lift up the vehicle to save her child.

Is there actually any accounts of this ever happening or is this, as I suspect, yet another urban legend?

Pardon my English. I meant: ARE there any accounts?

I really need to preview before I post.

This was the basis for the TV version of “The Incredible Hulk”. So it’s tough to say whether they based Dr. Banner’s research on real-life stories, or the urban legends sprang from TIH.

IMO, I wouldn’t doubt that given enough adrenaline that a human could accomplish this feat. I’ve heard of LSD junkies that can do amazing feats of strength. This is because they’re not feeling any pain. That’s what stops most of us from overexerting: the pain causes reflexes to stop the exertion.

But one of the things adrenaline does is to block this pain and the associated reflexes. So given enough stress (and gamma rays :wink: ), I’d think someone could lift a car.

I think you meant PCP, not LSD. I’ve never heard of any such effect of LSD.

But I can tell you from personal experience that an adrenaline rush DOES seem to make you stronger (or you notice weight less, or something to that effect). This is beyond just the ‘absence of pain’.

I’m basing this on an occasion when I tossed a television set halfway across the room, from a kneeling position. Normally, although I could (barely) lift that TV alone, I generally got help because it was so large & heavy. (Not heavy enough, however, to cause actual damage or pain when I lifted it alone.) Shortly after the fact, when I realized what I had done, I remember being amazed at how light that sucker had felt when I picked it up.

I don’t know how far this effect extends. I suspect there is a limit and that the ‘woman lifts car’ may be an exaggeration beyond that limit. However, the basic concept does contain some truth.
AWB - yeah, I think you meant PCP. LSD don’t do that sorta thing.

To clarify… I wasn’t actually questioning the likelyhood of this occurring… I can accept that, in the right situation, adrenaline can make you do amazing things…

My real question was whether any such car-lifting incident in specific had ever occurred. It has all the markings of an Urban Legend… the woman and location are never identified and it sounds like it should amazing but true.

I remember seeing an account of a guy lifting a helicopter off his buddy on tv one time. Granted he was a pretty big guy but were talking about a fucking helicopter here. So i would say yes, a woman could probably lift a car off of her baby. It was about 8-10 years ago though so i dont remember what show it was but it seems like it might have been rescue 911.

I don’t know how true it is, but my dad told me that story when I was about 12 to 14 years old. Dad was known to tell some, uh, tall tails, but he wouldn’t have made it up. He would have heard it somewhere himself. So, you are going to have to look back at least 40 years for the source of it.


Sometimes thing come out of my fingertips that just don’t make good sense. That of course should be “tall tales”.


I can remember my mother telling me that one time my grandfather’s car rolled over him while he was working on it (IIRC, he accidentally left the car in gear), and that my grandmother lifted the car enough for him to free himself.

My mother attributes my grandmother’s sudden burst of strength to adrenaline, but I don’t know enough details of the story to say whether it’s true or not. I’ll see if I can get more info about this.

I would say that such things are quite plausible, because if you’ve ever been stuck under something, or even had some object pinned under some other object, many times it requires only a small shift in position or weight distribution to free the pinned object. The woman wouldn’t have to lift the whole end of the car up off of the ground, she may just be able to budge it enough to free the child.

I saw that helicopter thing too. If it helps anyone track it down, I think it happened in Hawaii.

Lifting a helicopter single-handedly? I can do that, no problem.

Just wait until I get my helicopter pilot’s license. [Winkin’ smilie fits nicely here.]

C’mon, someone was bound to say it. Why not me?

I think the likelihood of such an event occuring depends greatly on what type of car. There’s a large difference between an SUV and a Geo-Metro. Heck, even scrawny li’l me could probably lift the Metro. :slight_smile:

True, my cousin drives his puny Japanese SUV in the desert alot, and it flipped on its side on the sand dunes a couple of times. He was able to right it with the help of one or two friends. In my older highschool, the seniors were able to lift the Headmaster’s car and put it on a ledge…it was a small Japanese car again. American made cars are much heavier than Japanese or Korean cars.

I dunno about the PCP thing, but one time on acid I was able to levitate out of a cold stream that an irritable canoe had rudely dumped me into (much to the amusement of my friends on shore, who can confirm the levitation part!).

Me, Kevin Federman, Mike Sime and one other fellah carried a VW beetle around to the back of a synogogue in Willingboro, when I was a mere spry of 17. No biggie at all.


If you think about the leverage involved, and where you grip the car, it is not that hard to life part of a car off the ground.

If you are short, and your legs need only straighten a little bit, and you have a good grip on the car, you can lift one corner of a car an amazing amount. And note, you are not lifting 1/4 the weight of the car, of course.

I have personally been able to lift the rear wheel of a 1979 Honda Civic just off the ground in this way, when I was not enraged, crazy, or on drugs. This is a car that weighs about 1600 pounds, so 1/4 of it would be 400. But since you are levering the car, and not dead-lifting the weight, it is not that heavy. And at that point, I was not having to straighten up very much. I think I calculated I was only actually lifting about 250 pounds, but can not find my calcs.

Or if you have ever used one of those all-in-one weight machines, which feature a leg press, you can test this. If you push the seat all the way back, so your legs only straighten a little bit, you can move an enormous amount of weight. On the last notch in girls HS gym, I could work out with the entire stack of weights (about 1020 pounds) due to the fact my legs were only moving a couple inches.

And the physics-illiterate coaches were amazed.

I saw the Hawaii helicopter episode on TV as well and a couple points should be made:

  1. The guy didn’t lift the helicopter, he tilted it. The copter looked like it was settled somewhat on its side in a creek bed. While I think in this case it probably took a lot of the big guy’s strength, in general, depending on how the helicopter was laying and where it was lifted from, it may not take an enormous amount of strength to do so. (as Anthracite mentioned)

  2. The guy was really a big guy. And he had so much ass crack hanging out of the back of his pants while lifting that they had to blur that part of the screen. Im not making this up.

  3. For some reason the guy holding the camcorder continued filming the whole rescue. (“Hey buddy, ya wanna put that thing down and give me a hand? Im trying to move a !&^%$?% HELICOPTER here!”)

All in all that may be my favorite episode of the reality-drama genre. It struck me as really pretty funny. 'specially that ass crack bit. I think the guy’s name was something like “Tiny”.

Noone has mentioned that women come in different sizes. In a movie-of-the-week the woman would be a skinny model type, but in real life she could be big. I’ve seen my farmer grandmother lift 200 pound feed sacks. Let me tell you she wasn’t a woman you would want to get a whippin’ from.