According to psychologists, when faced with danger we either stay and fight or run for safety. That’s what psychologists call the “fight or flight” response. Here are ten examples of people who chose to fight when staring danger, and death, in the face.
10. Boy Trapped Under a Car
Two mothers were credited with saving the life of a young boy after they rescued him from under a 1.1 ton car. According to The Daily Mail, the eight-year-old boy was playing outside when he ran into the street and was hit by a car. Upon hearing his screams, Donna McNamee and Abigail Sicolo, along with Donna’s father, Anthony McNamee, rushed to lift the car up so the boy could be freed. He suffered a broken leg and crushing injuries that required plastic surgery.
FUN FACT: Comic book artist Jack Kirby once said in an interview that he came up with the idea for the Incredible Hulk after seeing a mother lift a car off her child.
9. Burning House
A man rescued a woman from a burning house. Okay, so maybe that’s not a superhuman feat, but doing it while blind certainly is. Born without sight, Jim Sherman heard his elderly neighbor call for help from a baby monitor system the two of them shared. So, Sherman sprang into action and made his way from his home toward a chain link fence, which he used as a guide to find his way to the neighbor’s home. Once he got to the door, he “heard crackling, smelled smoke, and felt intense heat,” Sherman told the Houston Chronicle. He took a few steps to meet his neighbor, grabbed her by the hands, and led her out of the house. “I was walking backward and she was walking forward,” he said. Then, Sherman called 911 on his cordless phone. Thankfully, the neighbor and her pets made it out of the blaze unscathed.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Kevin Bates, an investigator with the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office, said that Sherman’s neighbor, Annie Smith, probably wouldn’t have made it out alive if it weren’t for his help. According to Bates, Smith’s relatives told him to she’d suffered a stroke a few weeks prior to the fire and had trouble walking.
Ken Jones survived not one but two avalanches while climbing Moldoveanu Peak in Romania. According to The Daily Mail, Jones heard a crack high above him, followed by a sharp, crisp, sudden echo. It was then that he noticed the snow traveling down toward him. “I turned and ran for my life,” he told The Daily Mail. He escaped the avalanche, only to hear that same cracking, echoing noise later that evening. It was followed by the thunder of moving snow. “In the next 30 seconds the avalanche overwhelmed me,” he said.
Jones had life-threatening injuries, plus a broken leg and a crushed pelvis, and a 30 percent chance of survival, but rather than wait for a rescue team, he decided to dig himself out. He eventually made it back down the mountain to the nearest town–ten miles away. Jones, who was told by a doctor that he’d never walk again, made a full recovery and even went on to start his own fitness company! Oh, and he wrote a book about his experience, too. It’s called Darkness Descending.
7. Grenade Attack
While on patrol in Iwo Jima, Jack Lucas jumped on two grenades to save his fellow Marines from an attack by Japanese soldiers. Of course, you’d think he would’ve died from the explosion, right? But, according to military.com, “what kills the majority of people isn’t the bomb but the flying bits of shrapnel… The explosion is just a catalyst that shatters the metal outside of the grenade and sends tens of thousands of tiny, razor-sharp metal splinters hurtling through the air in every direction, shredding anything in their wake, and killing or maiming anyone or anything within 100 to 150 feet.”
And, with those grenades under him, all that shrapnel went directly into Lucas’ body–250 pieces of shrapnel, to be exact. They had to be removed from every major organ of his body. In all, Lucas underwent 21 surgeries. Seven months later, President Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor. He was just 17 years old at the time and was the youngest Marine to ever receive the award. Thankfully, Lucas made a complete recovery.
6. Runaway School Bus
A New Mexico mother sprang into action after the school bus her children were supposed to be getting on rolled past them. It was then that Rhonda Carlsen chased after the bus–on foot–and pounded on the door to get the attention of one of the students. She told the child to pull on the lever to open the door. Once the door was open, Carlsen quickly jumped inside, hitting the brakes and turning off the engine. According to KOAT News, the driver appeared to be having a seizure. The driver was taken to a hospital and the kids made it out unharmed.
5. Polar Bear Attack
Lydia Angyiou got into a wrestling match with a 700-pound polar bear when he started “sizing up her son,” The Globe and Mail reported. Angyiou was out walking with her two sons when a group of kids playing street hockey started pointing and yelling. When she turned around she saw the bear looking at her son. After telling the kids to run, she proceeded to kick and punch the polar bear. He swatted her in the face, and she fell to the ground. With the polar bear on top of her, Angyiou started kicking her legs in a bicycle motion. Of course, he swatted her again. She rolled over, but the bear began moving toward her. Just then, a neighbor heard all the commotion and ran over to see what was the matter. When he saw the mother wrestling with the bear, he ran to his brother’s home and grabbed a rifle before heading back to the action. He fired a few warnings shots to get the bear’s attention long enough for him to aim and fire again. The neighbor fired four shots into the bear before it finally died.
4. Human Attack
A man who ran the Faraja Children’s Home in Ngong, Kenya, an orphanage for children in a dangerous area, was attacked by three men wielding machetes. Anthony Omari was struck in the face with one of the machetes, but he continued fighting the men off, with a hammer mind you, in order to protect the children in the orphanage. Being the only man at the orphanage, Omari often chased off attackers. According to Forbes, a Reddit user posted pictures of Omari’s scars, along with a call for donations. They raised $80,000 to build protective walls around the orphanage.
3. Plane Crash
In December 1971, the plane Juliane Koepcke was riding in suddenly crashed after being hit by lightning–that was only after it broke into pieces two miles above ground. It was then that Koepcke was ejected from the plane, still strapped to her seat bench, mind you. According to the BBC, Koepcke lost consciousness before hitting the ground. She woke up the next day with a broken collarbone, deep cuts on her legs, a ruptured ligament in her knee, and a wound on her upper right arm that eventually became infested with maggots. She pulled out about 30 maggots after sucking gasoline from a container she’d found in a hut and pouring the gasoline into the wound.
After eleven days, Koepcke was rescued by locals who treated her wounds, gave her something to eat, and then took her back to “civilization.” “The day after my rescue, I saw my father. He could barely talk and in the first moment we just held each other,” she told the BBC. As for Koepcke’s mother, she was a fellow passenger on the plane. “Later I found out that she also survived the crash but was badly injured and she couldn’t move. She died several days later,” Koepcke told the BBC.
2. Nazi Imprisonment
One brave woman came to the rescue of many of those imprisoned in Nazi Germany. Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, infiltrated the ghettos and smuggled 2,500 Jewish men, women and children out of the terrible conditions in which they were being held and guided them to the safety of convents or the homes of non-Jewish families. She was eventually captured by the Nazis, who tortured her and sentenced her to death. Thankfully, resistance members were able to persuade the prison guards to release her.
1. Sinking Truck
In 2008, eighteen-year-old Peter Hanne came to the rescue of a truck driver whose 23-ton rig came close to sliding into a river. According to The New Zealand Herald, the driver had been injured in an accident and was trapped inside the truck. Opotiki police Senior Constable Doug Henry told The New Zealand Herald that Hanne, after coming upon the accident, “went and got a wheel brace, crawled into the wreckage and up to the driver’s window, smashed the window and got the driver out and up to the bank.”
“I cannot thank him or praise him enough as without his help who knows what may have been!” the driver said in a letter he wrote to The New Zealand Herald. “If there is a bravery awards scheme in NZ I would like to personally nominate him,” he added.
Do you have any heroic tales of your own to share? Feel free to do so in the comments below. Thanks for reading!