When you think about it, the world is one big Rorschach test. Some people look at it and see the perfectly laid plans of a higher power. Others see a Jackson Pollock painting brought to life. But no matter how carefully scripted or chaotically scribbled your existence is, it’s certain to include a collection of unexpected happenings. Some will be awesome, like finding an unopened Twinkie on the sidewalk. Others will prove freakishly awful, like when fitness model Rebecca Burger got hit by an exploding whipped cream canister, had a heart attack, and died. This article addresses the latter kind of happening.
A window of inopportunity
Air travel comes with lots of downsides. Airplane food usually tastes like salted cardboard. Security checks are often more invasive than pelvic exams. You might die a horrible, horrible death. And even when none of those problems apply, flying can still really suck. No one understands that better than critical care nurse Chris Fogg, who once got sucked through an airplane window mid-flight.
In 2007, Fogg was helping to airlift a patient from Idaho to Washington when the window next him suddenly shattered. According to The Seattle Times, the resulting change in air pressure sent him hurtling headfirst through the opening. Fogg fought the onslaught of physics, his limbs the only barrier between him and a 20,000-foot fall to the ground.
Planting his left hand against the ceiling and his knees against the wall, the nurse tried desperately to pull himself back inside the plane. Luckily, he had the strength and wherewithal to separate his chest from the window, reducing the suction and allowing him to return to his seat. Unfortunately, the turbulence didn’t stop there. Fogg’s head had become a blood fountain, and he still had a patient to look after.
Fogg used a pillow to stem the bleeding. Meanwhile, all manner of charts and medical supplies got tossed about the plane and sucked through the broken window, which sounds pretty inconvenient from a nursing standpoint. Despite those obstacles, everyone survived. After an emergency landing, Fogg received 13 stitches and resumed work the next day.
Studio City, California has a number of significant connections to television and film. It’s the birthplace of Paul Thomas Anderson, the director behind naked Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights and the milkshake scene in There Will Be Blood. It’s also home to the CBS Studio Center, the Brady Bunch house, and a sinkhole that gobbles up people like candy. In 2017, that sinkhole debuted in a real-life horror film starring unsuspecting drivers. NBC provides a synopsis.
While driving through Studio City, a 48-year-old woman felt the ground buckle beneath her. Before she knew it, she was upside-down and 10 feet under the street, the victim of a 20-foot wide sinkhole that formed as she was passing by. The situation intensified drastically when water began rushing into her upturned car. Unable to open the windows, she had to force open her door and climb atop her vehicle to avoid drowning.
Fortunately, the fire department showed up to lend a helping hand. But not long after that rescue, motorist Isaiah Williams almost plummeted into the street when the sinkhole widened right behind him. Williams evaded the sinkhole, but his vehicle wasn’t so lucky. The car got swallowed just like the one before it.
Fire battalion Chief Mark Akahoshi surmised that the ground collapse resulted from soil erosion under the street. City officials agreed, chalking up the event to heavy rains and possible sewer problems. Interestingly, no one explicitly ruled out demonic possession. Just saying.
For whom the bell tows
Ian Bowman may not be an affable hunchback, but he’s still a bell-ringer worth noting. In February, 2017, the 51-year-old made headlines after a cathedral bell left him broken-backed. As The Guardian explains, the incident occurred while Bowman helped ring one of 16 bells at the UK’s Worcester Cathedral. In what can only be described as an act of Odd, a bell rope snagged Bowman’s ankle and violently yanked him upside down.
Suddenly, the house of worship turned into a hall of pain. After being snatched off the ground, Bowman got slammed against the bell tower floor like a fleshy wrecking ball. Once the violent swinging ended, he was stuck dangling 80 feet in the air. This would have been the perfect moment for an angel to appear and whisk Bowman to safety. Instead, he had to settle for the fire department.
Retrieving Bowman wasn’t easy. In order to save the human pendulum, firefighters had to pass through a series of trapdoors and employ a team of rope specialists to lower him. Thankfully, they succeeded, deftly avoiding both horrific tragedy and an incredibly awkward sermon. Even so, Bowman sustained head and neck injuries as well as a broken vertebra.
On the bright side, Bowman wasn’t paralyzed, despite breaking his back. He also walked away from his ordeal with a unique story to tell. After all, it’s not every day that someone gets their figurative bell rung by an actual bell.
The mayfly compact
Don’t you just hate it when bugs turn your windshield into a high-speed graveyard? It’s the ickiest of inconveniences. Plus it probably peeves Nature to no end. Think about it: every time a creepy-crawly goes splat against your vehicle, you’re basically committing a tiny hit-and-run. Well, Nature eventually got its revenge — in the grossest way imaginable.
Lancaster Online reports that in 2015 a gargantuan swarm of mayflies took over the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. How bad was it? Picture a Great Depression dust storm. Now replace every speck of dust with a two-inch long mayfly. If that tempts you to gouge your brain out, just imagine how drivers felt trying to navigate that mess.
Massive mayflies invaded vehicles and even were even getting in people’s mouths. As Fire Chief Scott Ryno recalled, “We had to close our eyes. We had to swat them away. Even when we got back, it felt like bugs were crawling in you.” And they probably were.
Worse yet, when the mayflies weren’t attacking cars directly, they were morphing into macabre booby-traps. The insects died in droves, creating an ice-like coating on the ground. At least three different motorcyclists ended up with road rash and heebie-jeebies after their bikes skidded across the slippery bug layer. Naturally, the bridge had to be closed.
A year later, mayfly hordes struck again, creating buggy corpse piles as high as two feet. Local officials resorted to shutting off the bridge’s lights for two months so the bugs would congregate elsewhere.
Blowing in the windshield
Mayflies aren’t the only weapon in Nature’s animal arsenal. Sometimes she opts to ditch those diminutive pests in favor of larger armaments. Heidi Conner discovered this firsthand in 2014 when a falling deer landed on her van.
Conner described her harrowing run-in in an interview with CBS News. She was on the tail end of a road trip with her four children when the unbelievable happened. A female deer plunged from an overpass as Conner cruised along the interstate below. The kamikaze venison smashed through her windshield. The collision obliterated part of the van and left Conner battered and bruised. Amazingly, none of the kids were injured. Even more astonishingly, the sequence didn’t end in a major car pile-up.
In 2015 Nature unleashed its projectile wrath again, this time on a woman named Nicole Bjanes. ABC reports that a turtle torpedoed through Bjanes’ windshield as she rode down a Florida interstate. As with the deer incident, the timing and trajectory of the crash were eerily precise. The animal had actually been struck by a different vehicle and hurled backwards through the air. Moving at speeds no turtle could conceive of, the reptile pierced Bjanes’ windshield like an oversized bullet, ricocheted off the passenger seat, and plopped down on her dashboard.
Bjanes incurred a few small cuts but was otherwise okay. The turtle fared even better, showing zero signs of injury. The green assailant was released into a pond, free to get shot through someone else’s car.
Quick on the paw
Dogs typically lack the maturity and grip strength needed to handle firearms. Accordingly, it’s unsafe to leave loaded guns lying around them. But from time to time gun owners get a bit lax, and it comes back to bite them in the rear. Allie Carter learned this lesson the hard way while out hunting with her dog Trigger.
CNN reports that Carter “became the object of an international punch line” in 2015 after laying her 12-gauge shotgun on the ground with the safety off. Trigger, living up to her name, leapt onto the gun, causing it to discharge a round into Carter’s foot. Thankfully the damage to her foot was insubstantial. Her ego, on the other hand, probably needed intensive care.
Carter’s misstep was surely embarrassing, but she could probably take solace in knowing she wasn’t the first person to be shot by a canine companion. Research by the Washington Post indicates that between 2004 and 2015, dogs busted caps in at least ten different asses throughout the U.S. In one of those cases, a Utah man got blasted literally in the butt with 27 pellets of birdshot when his dog jumped on a hunting rifle. America doesn’t have a complete monopoly on canine gun violence, though.
As The Telegraph explains, in 2010 an unsuspecting New Zealander was also shot in the derriere when his dog stepped on a loaded rifle. Perhaps that whole “man’s best friend” thing is a bit overstated.
Every dog tag harms its Day
There’s an old saying that goes: let sleeping dogs lie unless a rifle’s nearby… or something like that. Just know that it’s good advice. The same can’t be said for dog tags, however. Even without guns, those metal menaces can be your worst enemy. In Wiley Day Jr.’s case, a dog tag nearly cost him his life after it sent 110 volts of electricity surging through his body.
Alabama’s AL.com recounts Day’s nightmare. In late March, 2017, Day did something that he and countless others have done a billion times: he went to bed next to his charging iPhone. But on this particular occasion, something utterly insane happened. As Day slept, the dog tag around his neck got wedged between his iPhone charger and the extension cord it was loosely plugged into. And just like that, his body became a live wire.
Day woke to the sound his niece smacking his smoking bed. He was literally burning up and could hear his own heartbeat. But despite absorbing more than enough current to kill a man, Day managed to remove his electrified necklace and even drove to his doctor’s office. The doctor in turn, sent Day to the hospital for emergency treatment.
Day survived, but suffered significant burns and a torn shoulder. He took everything in stride, though. Interpreting his experience as a divine message, he promised to warn others against charging their phones in bed, which now sounds almost as risky as owning a Samsung smartphone.
Sick and tired of being sick of tires
A number of entries in this article have already touched on the hidden dangers of driving. But the list doesn’t stop at man-eating streets and zoological assassins. Vehicles themselves can also play the villain, occasionally in ways that seem nigh-impossible. Namely, they sometimes lose their wheels at the exact angle and speed required to cause absurdly far-fetched accidents.
Take, for example, the above footage from a Turkish drug store. UPI explains that the video shows pharmacy owner Abdulkadir Erdeve sitting with buddies Ibrahim Obaz and Volkan Ay in April, 2017. As the trio presumably discussed how awesome drugs are, a tire detached from a moving vehicle, bounded down the street, and glanced off a bicycle resting against a tree. From there the tire barreled into the pharmacy.
Erdeve and company were directly in the tire’s path. It bonked one of his friends on the head, bounced off the front desk, and then smacked into the second friend. Somehow, neither person was badly hurt despite essentially being walloped by a giant, rubber pinball. But even if they had been pulverized, there would have been plenty of medicine on hand.
Strangely, a very similar event occurred at a Texas medical clinic in 2014. Seventy-seven year-old janitor Manuel Mendoza stepped in front of a window moments before a truck tire crashed through it. According to Houston, Texas’ NBC affiliate, the rogue tire crossed a freeway, burst into the clinic, and bowled Mendoza over. Mendoza got a bit dinged up but was basically okay.
The Oregon Trail of destruction
If Rube Goldberg had been a car-wreck enthusiast, he would have drawn loads of kookily complex crashes. But not one of them would seem remotely as cartoonish as a real-world accident that transpired in Gresham, Oregon back in 2015. CBS affiliate KEPR elaborates.
In an uncanny sequence of mishaps, a sleepy driver careened into a utility pole, shutting off power to the area and propelling debris at a hapless bystander. The poor soul got knocked silly but wasn’t seriously hurt. Meanwhile, the stricken power pole wreaked long distance havoc. Said pole snapped, bending several other poles and completely toppling another located 200 yards away and across the street. Electrical wires splayed across the ground, ensnaring a second driver and capsizing her vehicle. Domino setups don’t even get that complicated.
Consistent with the incident’s Looney Tunes logic, the second driver walked away with minor wounds. The guy who started it all was also fine, but was probably charged with disobeying the laws of plausibility. Presumably, he blamed everything on the Acme Corporation, which undoubtedly sold him his car. Whether the driver was an actual human being or a humanoid coyote went unspecified in the news report.
Pained in the butt
Butts aren’t designed to inhale. In fact, their only real association with air usually involves expelling things that people don’t want to breathe in. However, sometimes reality tries to reverse that dynamic. As the plight of New Zealand trucker Steven McCormack demonstrates, the outcome can be ghastly.
In 2011, McCormack became the world’s creepiest balloon animal after falling onto an air hose. As ABC describes, McCormack had perched himself between his truck and its adjoining trailer when all of a sudden he slipped, landing butt-first on a line connecting the truck’s brakes to an air tank. The nozzle of said line lodged itself in the man’s left butt cheek.
McCormack’s body broke like the wind, as compressed air rushed through his backside in the absolute wrong direction. The trucker swelled to twice his normal size as muscle ripped from fat and air pressed against his heart. Workers scrambled onto the scene and managed to stop the air flow. An hour later paramedics arrived. By then McCormack was in bad shape.
The trucker’s body was so bloated that it rejected needles. And in the cruelest of ironies, he couldn’t breathe through an oxygen mask paramedics administered because he was too full of air. At the hospital doctors had to oxygenate McCormack’s lungs with –- you guessed it –- a hose. They also successfully rid his body of accumulated liquid. The air, however, had to exit roughly the same way it entered, precipitating a marathon of thunderous farts.
College should be a time when people explore themselves and create lasting memories of getting blackout drunk. For Natalie Eaton, however, it was a period of horrific tragedy and daunting tribulations. WMC Action News tells the story.
In 2014, Eaton was a bright-eyed freshman at Arkansas State University. What should have been the start of an exciting journey came grinding to a halt on just the second day of school. While socializing outside a frat house, Eaton became the victim of a calamitous decision. Nearly three dozen feet from where she stood, an ASU student swung a golf club at football. The club broke, launching half of it through the air. Thirty-five feet later, the club’s fractured shaft was buried deep in Eaton’s neck.
Panicked onlookers and even Eaton’s own brother –- who happened to be a doctor -– tried to help her. But ultimately medics had to fly her to another city to have the golf club removed. The consequent trauma to Eaton’s spine left her immobilized on her right side, impaired her sense of touch, and distorted her sense of positioning. Doctors opined that she’d never walk again. Basically, the whole thing was an epic bummer.
While Eaton’s classmates were off reenacting Van Wilder, she spent her days rehabbing at a Georgia medical facility, determined to defy her doctors’ grim prognosis. Two years later, she was walking two miles a day, driving, and thumbing her nose at adversity. Take that, medical experts.
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