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Does the thought of having a deadly accident scare you to death? What about the near misses?

Does the thought of having a deadly accident scare you to death? What about the near misses?

It has happened to others…


  • An unsuspecting train passenger barely avoids decapitation
  • A woman’s car spins 720 degrees on an interstate coated with black ice
  • A swimmer is pulled into an undertow then plucked from the water
  • A father and son fall into a waterfall, and save each other from drowning
  • A girl’s hand, shoved through a plate glass window, is left mysteriously unscathed
  • A cannon misfires, leaving a soldier injured yet miraculously alive
  • Buildings struck by airliners hurtle down around a pedestrian, but somehow spare him

Could it happen to you?

Those incidents are just a few of the dramatic brushes with death we’ve heard about recently.  And they’re not rare events.  Consider the everyday narrow escapes you can see for yourself on Youtube, for example.  (After seeing some of these near misses, you might never want to leave your home again!)

At Mike Morse Law Firm, we’re very familiar with wrongful deaths and personal injuries that can result in multi-million dollar settlements.  But what about those terrifying close calls?  How many fortunate souls have survived brushes with death for reasons we simply can’t explain?  It seems that harrowing experiences might be more commonplace than many people imagine.

Here are first-person details about the death-defying occurrences we’ve mentioned above … just in case you were wondering what it’s like to wave hello to the grim reaper without getting to know him better in person!

Does the thought of having a deadly accident scare you to death? What about the near misses?

Lesley St. James — Just about trained to death

Ms. St. James, an American with a fascination for the Continent, almost met her end there.  She tells it like this:  “It was 1995.  I was backpacking around Europe, and I was on a train from Italy to Switzerland.  I had a compartment to myself, and I was waiting for the train to leave the station when I suddenly heard someone whistling the theme song to ‘Green Acres’ (the late 1960s sitcom).  It was the most unexpected thing I could have heard, and I had to know where it was coming from.  (‘Green Acres’ was one of my favorite shows when I was a child.)  I poked my head into the corridor, but the whistling wasn’t coming from there.  It was coming in through the window.  Meanwhile, the train was pulling away from the station, but I could still hear the whistling.  So I leaned out the window to try to divine the source.  It seemed to be coming from the back of the train.  I looked in that direction and couldn’t see anyone, and suddenly the whistling stopped.  In that moment, I just happened to turn my head to look at the front of the train…and yanked my head back through the window right as I entered a tight tunnel.  I collapsed on the floor of my compartment and was hysterical for a good half hour.  I know that I narrowly escaped death that day, and I’ve always wondered exactly who or what was the source of that song.”

Wendy Aschenbach — Taking the family car for a spin (or two)

Ms. Aschenbach, now an English teacher with a flair for drama, had a dramatic experience on the interstate.  Here’s her story:  “I was driving home from a production of ‘Carousel’ at Candlelight Dinner Theater in North Wilmington, Delaware.  I was on I-95 and it was snowing and icy.  My car — it was a green AMC Hornet with a stick shift — hit an icy patch, and started spinning.  I remembered my dad telling me to pump the brakes, not slam them on.  The car did at least two 360-degree spins.  During that time, I think I may have said out loud, ‘I guess I’m coming, Lord.’  I thought for sure I was going to die.  I landed in a ditch.  I was wearing a seatbelt and had very minor injuries.  I smacked my chin in the steering wheel, which is the only pain I remember.  I walked out of the car.  There were no cell phones at the time, but a cop came … and had me call my dad.  I still think about the experience, and when I do it strengthens my faith.”

Abbey Delaney — Almost sliced but somehow unscratched

Ms. Delaney, currently a college student approaching graduation, almost didn’t make the cut.  She describes this shattering childhood experience:  “When I was in middle school, my sister locked me out of the house after school, and I was banging on a glass pane of the door, trying to get her to let me in.  We were alone (in our) old 70s home.  I broke the window.  My hand and wrist went straight through the glass, but I didn’t have a scratch on me.  My dad came home a half-hour later and was relieved nothing serious had happened.  Looking back, I get chills that nothing happened either.  We (just) didn’t get it as kids.”

Patrick Anderson — Surviving 9/11 at the Twin Towers

Mr. Anderson, who runs a successful economic forecasting firm in Michigan, nearly had his career cut short in the 2001 terrorist attack on the New York landmark.  He referred us to a newspaper account of his experience published in the Lansing State Journal:  “The building shakes, and there’s a tremendous crash … it can’t be thunder, it’s daylight.”  Mr. Anderson was in the Big Apple for a business trip, and was staying in the Marriott Hotel situated at the foot of the World Trade Center towers. Awakened by the noise and still undressed, Mr. Anderson said he heard a little voice telling him to leave immediately.  He told a reporter, “I grabbed what’s worth grabbing — a cell phone, a wallet and a pocket knife. I got one shoe on, and then it was like an angel tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Leave right now.’  So I ran out the door holding the other shoe.”  Horrible moments passed before he “heard the sickening noise of a plane coming low and very fast to my left. I thought, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to hit the tower.’’” He said he took cover with two other passersby beneath a trash truck an instant before the second plane crashed into the south tower.   “I said, ‘Jesus save me and these two guys with me.’  Neither one of them complained.”  Nearly 20 years later, Anderson still credits his escape to a higher power.  “I clearly think there was a God and that God encouraged me to get my rear end out.”

Ben Brandt — Escape from a treacherous waterfall

Mr. Brandt, a nuclear engineer, had a heavy water experience when he was a young man:  “There is a waterfall deep in the mountains near Cashiers, North Carolina.  They built a highway around the mountain, so not many people know of this exact spot except locals.  The waterfalls (in that area) go on forever, and some you can sit in and the water rushes over your shoulders.  The holes (under) them are five feet in diameter or bigger, so it’s a little pocket in the waterfall itself.  Very cool to swim in, bring a flashlight and see what you can see.  So my dad went in one close to the edge of the waterfall where the current is very strong and it pushed him under.  I noticed he was not coming up, and his hands were flailing, so I got in the water pocket next to him and used my arms to grab him, but in doing so I was pushed under the current.  I knew he had less time than I did, so I kept pulling (him) while under water until I could feel he had made it out and was free.  Then I was able to grab a corner near the top and push myself back up from the current with his help. (Later) we heard stories about a similar incident where a father and son drowned in the same spot years ago.”

Nick Hailey — Encounter with undertow off Myrtle Beach

Mr. Hailey is a registered nurse who was once himself saved by a nearby first responder — a man whose name he never discovered.  “Now, I’m a pretty good swimmer.  By the time I was two years old, I was swimming, and it always seemed like a natural process to me.  So when my parents took me down to Myrtle Beach for a weekend, the waves were looking particularly rough but (I had) my confidence up enough to get in.  I was having a lot of fun riding in those waves. Ever more adventurous, I went farther out, convinced there would be better waves.  I must have been waiting 15 minutes for a good wave when I saw one peaking near the horizon with a few following behind. It looked like I was about to miss it, so my dad gave me an extra nudge.  I immediately felt like it was the biggest wave I had been on.  The wave curled up instantly, I felt my head scrape the sand a few times (and) I felt like I was deeper than usual — about 12 feet down.  I began pulling and kicking to the top, found air and breathed for a brief second when the next set of waves (came) from behind and over me.  I glimpsed a man with his kids about 25 yards towards the beach.  I knew I couldn’t make it.  Having given up, I relaxed some to hear ‘That’s What I Love About Sunday’ by Craig Morgan playing in my head.  I started to lose perception of where I was; all I could hear was this song, and it comforted me.  The next thing I remember, I was up on a board.  It was the guy with the kids.  I never got his name, but he carried me on his boogie board.  He let me cough out the water in my lungs on the beach and patted me on the back.”

Mike Unger — Nearly blown away by his own Howitzer

Ironically, Mr. Unger had returned to Camp Pendleton, California, from the dangers of the Gulf War just three months before an accident on the home front nearly claimed his life.  As a section chief in the Marines, he was on a night training mission using illumination rounds (basically flares that mimic daylight) when one of the rounds in his M198 Howitzer exhibited a “hang fire” — an unexpected delay in ignition.  Standard operating procedure (SOP) required a lengthy wait to be sure the round didn’t ignite while it was being removed.  “My firing lanyard was the wrong length.  The SOP was to try firing (the gun) two more times but I knew the lanyard was too long.  We’d come back from the Gulf and some of the equipment was just makeshift, so I asked the safety officer what to do and he said, ‘Use it anyway.’  Luckily, I had put on my kevlar helmet.  (Kevlar is a bulletproof material.)  SOP was to wait 10-15 minutes, and suddenly I thought to myself, ‘Get out of the way!’  We had the breach almost vertical, and as I knelt down to unhook the lanyard, the S.O.B. went off.  I was knocked 15 feet back in the air.  I heard this whoosh sound in my head, I can still hear it when I think about it.  I felt blinded.  One of the guys took me to the hospital in a humvee, and they couldn’t keep me awake.  They laid me on a table, I saw lights flashing, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to be gone.’  It (the impact) cracked my kevlar helmet.  They tell me it’s still used in training there to demonstrate why helmets are important.” Despite the traumatic experience, Mr. Unger, who now lives in Pennsylvania, says he misses being in the service.  “I’m as patriotic as I can be.  I miss the guys.”  He tells us that this summer he will attend a 30-year reunion of his fellow Marines.  We thank him for his service, and wish him the best.

Live for today … for tomorrow you may die

The Roman poet Horace first uttered some famous words of advice thousands of years ago: Carpe Diem.  His suggestion has been translated various ways over the centuries, but the point he was making is to live for today.  After all, you never know if your next mishap will be the one that sends you to the hospital … or somewhere worse.

If a catastrophe happens in your life, and you’re not so lucky as some of the fortunate people we’ve described in this posting, you might benefit from a conversation with one of our experienced Michigan personal injury attorneys.  If you’re ever hurt due to someone’s negligence or malicious actions, contact us today for a free consultation. Call 855-MIKE-WINS or email mike@855mikewins.com.  You don’t pay a dime unless we win for you.

Does the thought of having a deadly accident scare you to death? What about the near misses?

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.