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Great Survival Stories

Why would someone cut off their own leg? Why is it a good thing to get stung by fire ants? Kidzworld looks at wild stories of survival.

Fisherman Drinks Pee, Eats Turtles

In June 2004, a Vietnamese fisherman, Bui Duc Phuc, was fishing for squid, when a strong current sent him more than 62 miles (100 kms) from shore. After drifting at sea for five days, he began drinking his own pee and caught a sea turtle, which he ate raw, in order to stay alive. After 14 days, he was finally rescued by another ship.

Holy Crap! Dude Cuts Off His Own Hand!

On April 2003, Aron Ralston was climbing in Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah when a 200 pound boulder fell on him and pinned his right arm (Ouch!) Aron lay pinned for nearly four days before he ran out of water and decided he needed to take some serious, and very painful, action. He pulled out his trustworthy pocketknife and amputated his own arm from below the elbow. He wrapped a bandage around what was left of his arm and climbed down to the floor of the canyon. He then hiked downstream where he was spotted by a Utah Public Safety Helicopter and was rushed to hospital.

Rescued By Fire Ants

In September 1999, Joan Murray was skydiving near Charlotte, North Carolina. Her main parachute failed to open during a jump from 14,500 feet. Her backup chute opened when she was 700 feet above the ground, but then it deflated. Joan crashed to the ground and landed in a mound of fire ants. Landing on a mound of fire ants usually isn't a good thing, but doctors believe the stings from the fire ants may have helped keep Joan's heart beating and saved her life. She was in a coma for two weeks but was well enough to return home six weeks later. She took up skydiving again in July 2001.

Mountain Medic

In October 1993, Bill Jeracki was on a fishing trip in the Colorado Rockies when he became trapped after a boulder rolled onto his leg and crushed it. Bill was only wearing jeans and a T-shirt and a nighttime snowstorm was about to set in. Bill began to get really cold and knew he had to move into boy scout mode. Using some fishing line, a pocketknife and the surgical scissors he kept to remove fishhooks, Bill amputated his own leg. He then crawled 100 yards to his truck and drove into town where people called an air ambulance.

Lost Boy Scout

Brennan Hawkins, an 11 year-old boy scout, survived four days alone in the woods in June 2005, after he went missing from a Scout Camp in Utah. He suffered from minor dehyrdration and had a few scrapes when he was finally found by rescuers, but was otherwise fine. Rescuers had trouble finding Brennan because he was frightened of the rescuers and hid from them because he "didn't know if they were scary people." An important lesson to remember is that when you're lost in the woods and have no food, the rescuers who are trying to find you are seldom scary.

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Would You Cut Off Your Arm?

  • For sure - I'd do whatever it takes to survive.
  • No way - I get too disgusted at the site of blood.
  • I never hike or camp alone - so hopefully someone could run for help and I wouldn't have to do it.

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