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6 incredible sole survivor stories

May 13, 2010

Wednesday’s plane crash in Libya was a tragedy.  The Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 went down and killed 92 passengers and 11 crew.  There was, however, an amazing story that came out of it.  A sole survivor.  Ruben von Assouw, a boy traveling with his family, somehow managed to escape the disaster alive.  It has not been discovered exactly what the circumstances were for this to happen, but they had to be incredible to escape this:

But this isn’t the first time something like this has occurred.  There are several air disasters in which many people were killed but one person somehow survived.  I would assume that there would need to be extreme circumstances and quite a bit of luck involved to endure these stories.  Here are a few of the many instances where there was only one survivor left after a plane crash.

 

Bahia Bakari

This one was less than a year ago.  Yemenia flight 626 was on approach to Comoros on June 30, 2009 when it suddenly plunged into the ocean killing 152 people.  Bahia was somehow ejected from the plane and, despite the fact she couldn’t swim, found a piece of wreckage to cling on to.  The crash occurred at 1:50am on a moonless night, so Bahia was in pitch blackness for the first several hours of her ordeal.  After floating for 13 hours, exhausted and dehydrated, she was rescued by a Comoran ferry participating in the search effort.

 

Vesna Vulović

JAT Flight 367 was cruising over Czechoslovakia on January 26, 1972.  Vesna was a flight attendant going about her duties when the plane suddenly broke apart in midair from a bomb in the front baggage compartment.  The wreckage fell to the ground some 30,000 feet below.  Vesna was found alive and there has never been an explanation of how it could have been possible.  She remembers nothing of the incident, but was left with a fractured skull, two broken legs and three broken vertebrae and was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. She eventually regained use of her legs and even continued to work for JAT for several years until being let go due to her political views. (She didn’t like Slobodan Milošević very much) She is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest fall without a parachute.

 

Cecelia Cichan

On August 16, 1987, a Northwest Airlines flight going from Detroit to Phoenix crashed during takeoff.  The crash killed 154 of the 155 passengers.  The lone survivor was 4-year-old Cecelia.  She was found alive buckled in her seat among the burning wreckage.  Early press releases indicated that Cecelia survived because her mother shielded her at impact, but they were later debunked.  One FTSB employee, a veteran of 20 plane crash investigations, was unable to explain how she survived.  “I have never seen such complete destruction. There is not a bone left intact in the bodies.”
 

Erika Delgado

I couldn't find a picture of Erika, but here's a pic of the plane she was on

On March 17, 1995, an Intercontinental de Aviacion DC-9 crashed into a marsh 37 miles short of the airport.  Erika, like a few others on this list, was ejected from the aircraft.  She was discovered hours after the crash by a local farmer.  She had two broken arms, but survived because she landed on a large pad of lilies that broke her fall and held her above water until she was found.

 

George Lamson

Again I couldn't find a photo, so I had to resort to showing the type of plane

Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 reported problems shortly after take-off from Reno, Nevada on January 21, 1985.  As the pilots were attempting to return to the airport, the plane plunged to the ground and burst into flames just outside of town.  The only survivor out of 72 passengers and crew was 17-year-old George Lamson, who was found still conscious and still strapped to his seat sitting upright in the middle of Highway 395.

 

Juliane Koepcke

Flying to Lima, Peru on December 21, 1971, a LANSA airliner came apart in a severe thunderstorm.  Juliane fell over 10,000 feet while strapped in her seat.  Somehow surviving the fall with an eye injury and a broken collarbone, she then had to further survive 10 days in a dangerous jungle until she finally stumbled upon a loggers camp.  On a sidenote to this one, it was later discovered that as many as 14 other passengers may have survived the crash but were unable to find their way out of the jungle from which Juliane escaped.

 

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