We all gotta die at some point, though some times fate looks at a situation where you’re about to bite the big one and decides, “nope, not yet. Your room’s not quite ready to go. Hang around down there some more.” And so we get scenarios like the following, where seemingly insignificant things manage to come together, resulting in people stumbling into saving their own lives.
10. Ronald Reagan
In 1981, Ronald Reagan was almost assassinated by John Hinckley. Due to the quick thinking of Secret Service agent Jerry Parr, Reagan was quickly brought into the limo, and brought to the hospital.
While Parr saved his life, it might never been, except for a movie called Code of the Secret Service. Jerry Parr saw the film as a child, and liked it so much, he kept going back to the theater to see it again and again. He grew so fascinated with the movie, that he was inspired to join the Secret Service as an adult. And who was the star of Code of the Secret Service? One Ronald Reagan, who called the movie “the worst picture I ever made.” If not for filming that piece of crap over 40 years prior, Reagan might not have survived the day.
9. William Seward
While John Wilkes Booth was off killing Lincoln, an associate of his was getting ready to kill the Secretary of State, William Seward. The assassin, Lewis Powell, bluffed past a servant, misfired a pistol, and proceeded to try and stab Seward to death. Seward, to this point, was having a rough month. In addition to overseeing the collapse of the Confederate States, he had gotten into a carriage accident only a week before, and needed a jaw brace. When he was attacked, Powells stabbings never hit their mark, as Seward’s brace was actually deflecting the stabs away from his neck. Because of an accident and a resulting neck brace, his injury prevented a far more serious one.
8. Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane, creator of such shows as Family Guy, came within minutes of missing out on his entire career, not to mention life. In 2001, MacFarlane was supposed to fly from Boston to Los Angeles, but had been partying the night before, woke up late, had a hangover, received a wrong departure time from his travel agent, and arrived 10 minutes late for his flight. The day was September 11th, and his flight was one of the four that were hijacked that day. Simply by partying hard all night, he missed the fateful flight and saved his own life.
7. Theodore Roosevelt
In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt decided to run for President again, facing off against Woodrow Wilson and William Taft, and forming his own party in the process. While campaigning in Milwaukee, Roosevelt was stalked by John Schrank, who was told by the ghost of William McKinley to go and kill Roosevelt for the crime of being a better President. So he went to Roosevelt’s speech, and shot him. Luckily for Roosevelt, the bullet hit exactly where he kept his metal eyeglass case and folded speech, which cushioned the bullet’s impact. While aides rushed to him, Roosevelt gave the speech anyway, saying “It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.” After the speech, he went to the hospital, but the bullet was never removed. He lived seven more years after that.
6. James Doohan
Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek, served in the Canadian military during WWII. Doohan was leading men during the Normandy invasion when a Canadian soldier, hopped up on nervousness, accidentally shot him six times. While 4 shots hit him in the leg, and one round took out his finger, one shot got right into a critical part of his chest. Amazingly, the bullet hit exactly where a sterling silver cigarette case, which his brother had just given him, was. It stopped the bullet and saved his life. While his finger had to be amputated, Doohan’s life was saved by smoking.
5. Dan Inouye
At the time of his death in December 2012, Senator Dan Inouye was the oldest, and 2nd highest ranked, member of the United States Senate. During WWII however, he was almost interned in a Japanese-American camp, but got out of it by volunteering for the military. With the government nervous about sending him to Japan, they instead sent him to Italy and France. While there, his battalion was suddenly surrounded by Germans. The Allies attempted to fight their way out, but Inouye was shot in the heart during an assault. Unbelievably, the bullet was deflected by two silver dollars that were in his shirt pocket at the time. Because of his actions, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, and kept the silver dollars as a good luck charm.
In 1945, only weeks before the end of the war, he lost his silver dollars. On the same day, he led an assault and was immediately shot and taken out of the war. While he never found them again, he did have good luck later on, becoming the first Asian-American elected to the Senate.
4. Louis XV
In 1757, Louis XV was King of France, but was facing a lot of dissent at home, due to many unpopular policies. So a former servant, Robert Damiens, decided to take him out. Getting into Versailles, he spotted the King and managed to stab him with a penknife. While everybody thought he was killed due to the force of the stab, Louis XV survived with only a minor wound. As it turned out, because of Louis’ habit of wearing layers of clothing to show off his wealth, the layers cushioned the knife’s stabs, and pretty much saved his life.
Louis would live. Damiens, on the other hand, would have his stabbing hand burnt with sulfur, his wounds filled with boiling lead and wax, his limbs pulled apart by horses, and his torso burned at the stake. He was reportedly alive the entire time.
3. Prince Hussein of Jordan
In 1951, Prince Hussein of Jordan was with his grandfather in Jerusalem. While going to a mosque to pray, an assassin shot at them. While they managed to kill his grandfather, King Abdullah I, the young prince managed to survive when a bullet hit a medal on his military uniform, one that had been given only days earlier by his Grandfather. He not only survived, he also pursued the gunman through the streets of Jerusalem.
2. Tommy Allsup
In 1959, Tommy Allsup was traveling around the midwest with several groups, including Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the “Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson. In Mason City, the group had bus problems, and hired a small plane to carry three of them to the next location. While bandmate Waylon Jennings gave his seat to Richardson, Allsup and Valens argued about who would get the last seat. Valens suggested a coin flip, and Allsup took a coin out of his pocket. A DJ flipped the coin, with Valens calling heads. It came up heads, and he went on the plane with the other two.
During the flight, the plane crashed, killing all four on board, and creating “The Day The Music Died.” Allsup was stunned by the incident, but would go back into the music industry, and even create a bar called the “Headsup Saloon” after the coinflip that saved his life. His coin.
1. Ian Thorpe
Ian Thorpe is probably Australia’s greatest swimmer ever, with numerous golds at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. On September 11, 2001, Thorpe was in New York City for a promotional event, and decided to see the city. His first stop was the top of the World Trade Center for some photos. He got there early in the morning, but completely forgot his camera, so he ran back to his hotel to get it. In his room, he quickly turned on the TV to get the weather, when he saw news of the World Trade Center attack, with a plane crashing exactly where he was going to be if he hadn’t forgotten his camera. The near-death experience caused him to go into a slump, but he recovered in time for the 2002 World Championships.
Evan V. Symon is building up a book here