‘That Escalated Quickly’. People Share A Time They Instantly Faced Extreme Danger
Have you ever accidentally been lit on fire? Fallen asleep at the top of a mountain? Tumbled in roller skates down a hill—in the dead of night? Nearly been backed off a cliff by a deranged bus driver? If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. There are people who have found themselves in these terrifying situations and somehow managed to escape unscathed! While these experiences may sound non-survivable, there are many who have lived to tell their tales on how they managed to survive extreme danger.
There’s not a person alive who hasn’t found themselves in a precarious situation at one time or another. But has one of these experiences ever made you fear for your life—or nearly taken it? Many unfortunate souls have faced conditions so dangerous that its almost unbelievable they made it out alive. These are horror stories from Reddit users who stumbled into some spine-chilling, treacherous situations and somehow survived!
#25 Dozing Off On A Mountaintop
I was about 19,000 feet (5.7km) up in Tanzania. Felt incredibly drowsy while taking a rest and started dreaming. The guide slapped me on the arm, “Don’t sleep. You die.”
The chuckle and “I’m in danger” came when I realized I felt so awful I might choose sleep.
#24 Scary Sweep Out To Sea
I swam from a beach out to a buoy, not even that far—maybe 200 meters from the beach. I am a strong swimmer, so thought I’d manage it easily. Something about the cold water and current, I don’t know, I was really struggling coming back even with trying to swim horizontal to the beach, etc. I went all light headed and felt really tired, then just started thinking that this was it, I was going to drown and how stupid it was of me. I floated there for a bit, laughed to myself like a maniac about how stupid I was dying like this. Eventually, I snapped out of it and started swimming again, and ended up crawling back onto the beach. My partner asked how the sea was and I just croaked, “Fine.”
#23 Hanging On By Their Fingernails
Me and my friend were scaling a cliff. He wanted to go around which would take about an hour. I said we could climb it. Fast forward 10 minutes and I’m hanging off a cliff 30 feet tall and hanging on to dear life with two hands. I found the situation quite funny. I was so confident in my ability to climb it, and I lost my footing just as I got to the top. I was holding onto the rock for what felt like forever (most likely less than 2 minutes) until he managed to climb up and pull my behind up there.
#22 High Horsepower, Near Miss
A car jumped the median and was barreling right towards me doing well over 70. Luckily horsepower saved me from death; my first instinct was to floor it, and at least have them hit the rear door/panels instead of the driver side door (I was the only one in the car).
#21 Bus Backing Off A Cliff
There was this time on a school bus; we had a new driver.
The area is pretty hilly, and in this route, had this steep 50 foot drop off where the bus turned around with a 3 point turn.
But the bus driver kept backing up. Closer and closer—we almost went off the cliff. I’m sure that if we measured, it was within a foot.
I started looking at exits, and how fast I could run to the front or the side exit. Man, we were all screaming in terror. Good times.
#20 Distracted From A Raging Fire
I was watching Archer on my laptop in college, had my headphones on, and in the episode, there was an alarm going off. After about 3 episodes I finally realized, “Hey wait, why can I still hear the alarm?” I look up and just see the end of the corridor I was in completely engulfed in fire and it was coming at me fast. The best part was that like 40 people just walked by me after the alarm started and let me sit there. Nobody even bothered to warn me.
#19 World Trade Center Earthquake
During the 1st World Trade Center bombing—ground floor, the explosion knocks me to my knees. I thought 2 subway trains crashed. A couple of seconds later the 2nd explosion, and I knew this was going to be a problem. I learned years later there was no 2nd explosion. The tower just rang like a bell. It was the building reverberating back the original bomb. I went to work somewhere else not long after that.
#18 A Spine-Tingling, Self-Destructive Candle Fire
I leaned over a candle and set my t-shirt on fire. I thought it was really interesting and turned to my friends saying, “Hey, look everyone. My t-shirt’s on fire.” Fortunately one of them had more presence of mind than I did and put it out.
#17 A Distressing, Dangerous Prop Desk
I was in a play and my character had to be on top of a cheap IKEA desk, in tall stiletto heels. This desk was on top of a large arrangement of flimsy metal stage blocks. (I had already fallen off the desk itself during a rehearsal with no costumes before it was put on the staging blocks and sustained a large bruise across my back from hitting the edge of it as I toppled.)
Opening night, lights up, I immediately thought ‘Well, crap.’
#16 Rolling Down The Rough, Rocky River
I was doing aid work in Croatia in the late 90’s, only a few years after the war had ended. Our group was staying in a small village about an hour outside Zagreb which had been caught up in the conflict. We’d made friends with the locals and they took us down to the river where we had a fun time swimming and mucking about. I totally underestimated the river current and my ability to swim. So I start trying to cross the river and the current just picks me up—whoosh—and suddenly I’m on my behind, trying to swim against it. No deal. When I realize this I start trying to get footing but I’m being swept downstream and my feet are literally hitting rocks, no grip at all.
It seemed like forever (but was probably about 5-10 seconds) before I hit a shallow calm patch of the river where I could stand up. When the guys came over they were telling me it was no big deal but had I been swept a little bit further downstream I would’ve hit a heavily mined area and probably been blown to bits. I metaphorically pooped myself. That’s the closest I’ve come to losing my life. Really messed me up.
#15 Terrifying Trek Through A Volcano
I decided to explore some lava tubes on an extinct volcano (Rangitoto if you’re curious) with no torch and bad footwear. It was extremely dark in there with no cell phone reception. I got completely disoriented and had to feel my way out because my phone was not as bright as I’d thought. No one knew where I was and I could have been in serious trouble. Stupidest thing I’ve done.
#14 Bone-Chilling Bomb Threat On Black Friday
Me and my girlfriend were in London on Black Friday last December. We were walking towards the tube on Oxford Street when, in a split second, the mass of people walking in front of us started screaming, shouting and running. Then it just went nuts; there was like a wave of panic as hundreds of people sprinted off everywhere, running all over the place, into the road, into the shops, down the street, etc. There was a cacophony of guttural screaming and crying. I just can’t describe the feeling. My stomach just dropped. My first thought was to grab my girlfriend’s hand and run indoors into the nearest shop and get off the street. There were so many people crying and shouting they’d heard a bomb go off, or gunshots. It was just total despair and a feeling I’ll never forget. But then it got worse.
We ended up locked down in the underground floor of a M&S, with hundreds of others cramped together like refugees huddled away. There was no room to breathe—people were asking me what was happening and I could barely even respond. I was in full survival mode, and all I could focus on was holding my girlfriend and trying to calm her down. Then it happened again; a second wave of panic blew across the room. I could almost see the panic spread. The instant thought I had was, ‘This is it, this is freaking it.’ This wave, however, was so much worse because there was nowhere to run and nothing to hide behind. People started trampling over each other, scrambling desperately just to get away from whatever it was. One poor woman had fallen down and just couldn’t get up while the masses stampeded over her. (Props to the guy who yelled for people to help her up in the panic, you’re a freaking saint.)
Ultimately, it turned out to be nothing but a scare. But even to this day, I have nightmares about it. I can’t describe how it felt knowing there was an extremely real chance we would never see the outside of that room again.
#13 Horrifying Hunt In The Outback
I hunted wild boar (razorbacks) in Australia.
Since I was a teenager, they wouldn’t give me a rifle. They set a line of the teenagers up with long poles and what looked like metal trashcan lids to bang and make noise in a line abreast formation.
We stomp forward, and the pigs run the other way toward the hunters with the rifles…in theory.
Occasionally, a male (the ones with the horns) will have enough testosterone stored in their bodies to charge at us. That’s when we’re supposed to take the pole and push them away…yeahhhhhh…14-year-old-dumb-me dressed in a leather apron is gonna push this 400 lb pissed-off pork monster off me with a stick.
#12 A Perilous Patient Encounter
When I was in school and did my psych rotation, the first thing we were told was never to split up from our partner just in case of a dangerous situation with a patient, so we would have a second person there to help.
I went to do an assessment on a patient—he seemed perfectly normal, and my partner judged that now would be a good time to use the restroom. The patient and I are having a pleasant-as-can-be conversation, he asks me to look at his drawings which he hung up proudly on the wall. I oblige; I like art as much as the next gal. I look and they’re plenty nice. And then I turn around and find that the second thing we were told never to do, which is to let the patient get between us and the doorway, has happened. And he was not seeming so friendly anymore, which is when I thought to myself, “Well darn it, I’m in a pickle now.”
This man is telling me how he has to get out of here, and I have to help him, and I don’t even hear what else at this point because I’m realizing how potentially screwed I am. But then I realized that I had also done the third thing which we were told never to do, which was to keep our cell phones on us on the floor. I was just hoping at this point that I could keep this guy talking a little while I call my preceptor to save my dumb behind.
My friend was at the same clinical site the following semester and the preceptor used that as a cautionary tale to emphasize the first two rules and get rid of the third one.
#11 A Horrifying Hike In Eerie Isolation
To put a long story short, when I was 16 I severely misinterpreted how long a hiking trail was. I discovered it a couple of hours before sunset. I had never hiked it before so I glanced at the map at the trailhead before setting off. It was essentially a loop with a slash through it so I wasn’t too worried about getting lost.
I hiked it for an hour or so, and I reached what I thought was the halfway point and sat for a while. When I got up, I decided to hike the rest of the loop instead of going back the way I came. Bad idea—the sun was almost down at this point and I had to start using my phone as a flashlight. Then I realized that I was at 15% battery. At that point the reality set in that I was a 16-year-old girl alone in the woods, no one knew where I was, and I was about to lose my only light source. As I continued hiking the loop I started to realize that it was much longer than I initially thought. I started to get frantic and ended up turning around. At this point, my phone died and I started thinking to myself, “If something happens to me here they won’t find me for days.”
The rest of the story is essentially just me being terrified in the woods but I did eventually make it back to my car unscathed. Moral of the story: don’t be a freaking idiot and read the trail maps thoroughly if you’re gonna go hiking right before sunset…also charge your darn phone.
#10 Ricocheting Off Rocks On Rollerblades
I was rollerblading and bombed this hill. It was a maybe 60-yard path with a button hook ending. I didn’t notice that at the end of the button hook were two large boulders, maybe four feet high and just as wide with sharp edges. I got to about 30 miles per hour before I realized there was no way I was stopping. I remember chuckling and saying, “This might hurt.” Made a game-time decision before I picked up any more speed and threw myself on the side of the path; I ended up rolling well past the boulders maybe another 20 yards or so. Luckily it was the dead of night and the hill was grassy and well maintained. Also, the dew helped a lot. Honestly, it felt like a slip and slide. I remember feeling as though I teleported. One second I was on my skates and the next I was laying on my back at the bottom of a hill. Patted myself down and I was totally fine. Wet, but fine.
#9 Rammed By A Reckless Sheep
When I was 7 I was playfully pushing a sheep and he pushed forward. Next thing I know I am against a wall, the sheep’s head on my chest, and 5 seconds later I realize he is too strong for me. I literally thought I was going to die right there.
#8 Suffocating In Toxic Smoke
I told the story before related to some army threads, but it was 3 years ago I believe when I was still in active service in Switzerland. I’m part of a tank crew, and that day I was the designated loader for the cannon. We were doing live fire exercises and as we fired, one of the gas-extractor seals blew up. What this is basically is a circular rubber ring around the gas tube of the cannon (if you look up a Leopard A2 tank, its the thick tube at the base of the cannon) that acts as a seal to prevent smoke backlash into the crew compartment, and instead vents it outside. This entailed the sealed crew compartment filling up with smoke and the acrid smell of cordite and essentially blinding us all.
So here I am, a 25kg High-EX shell in my arms that you don’t want to drop on the floor, blinded and winded by smoke, thinking “Well, this is how I die apparently.” I managed to fumble around, slot the shell back into the carry tray as well as engage the co-ax machine gun fan (it’s mounted under the machine gun ejection port, and pulls the smoke outwards when turned on) and open the top hatch to let it cycle out.
#7 Horrific Flash Flood On Houston Highway
I was calling an Uber in Houston right in the middle of a downpour. As a Brit who was staying there for work, I was only vaguely aware of the dangers of flash flooding and being from a country with no real inclement weather, I obviously didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.
As Texas natives will no doubt confirm, when it rains it rains HARD. At least it did that morning. I remember trying to call an Uber on the app, and a few drivers in a row canceled on me. But I was going home from a friend’s house, so I didn’t really have much choice and just persisted in requesting a driver. The driver who eventually did show up was a friendly Nigerian fellow who probably also didn’t really consider how dangerous it was. In the short (as in, 4-second) journey from the front door to the cab, I got so soaked it looked like I had been thrown in a lake.
We were both chuckling like, “Haha, look at all this rain,” until it got so bad that we literally couldn’t see one yard in front of the car. By this point, we were on the freeway and basically trapped, and then we both started getting alerts on the Uber app that we were in a “danger zone” and to vacate immediately. Then we saw the water rising on the side of the freeway, and cars starting to lose control. That’s when both of our smiles dropped and it was like, “Yeah, people die in these conditions. We both might not be going home today.”
#6 Struggling To Find Safety While Skiing
I took an out-of-bounds ski trail that looked fun (by myself because intelligence is my strong suit). I came upon a tall cliff with a flat landing that I knew I couldn’t make on skis but I had come too far to hike back to the main path. I took my skis off, tossed them over and climbed down. Hurt my legs, but nothing serious—continued on. Several minutes later I came upon a sign pointing towards a 20-kilometer bike trail ending God-knows-where. It was around that time I realized I could end up lost in the backcountry of a ski resort with no cell reception. I decided to hike in the opposite direction the sign was pointing since it was uphill and seemed more likely to take me back to the main trail. After several whispered swears and a good half hour of hiking uphill (and across a sketchy looking wooden bridge) through deep snow in ski boots holding my skis, I arrived at a populated ski run. I now make sure to have someone with me for all backcountry related adventures. That way if I die, I can bring them down with me.
#5 Frightening Flip On An ATV
That moment when you’re gunning it up a hill on an ATV and you’re about 90 degrees before the pinnacle and you let off the gas too early because you thought you were going to flip backward. Everything perpetually slows and then goes completely still before the hill crest and it’s quiet and you know Newton’s law so you just chuckle and think, “Well I guess we’re gonna roll backward now and hope for the best.”
#4 Close To Consumption By Sharks
I was scuba diving and sharks were swimming so close under me that I had to actively try not to kick them.
#3 Impaled By A Fencepost
I was balancing myself on a wrought iron fence post that I had impaled myself upon. For the first 30 seconds after the incident occurred I was just sitting there alone thinking, “Well crap, what do I do now….Oh no.”
#2 Dropped In Dangerous, Non-Navigatable City
I took the wrong tram at midnight on my first night in a city I have never been in before and ended up in the middle of nowhere. Police were surrounding the area and had dogs on leashes sniffing around all over. My phone was out of battery, and I had no idea where I was. I was just like, ‘Yep, you messed up.’
#1 Crushed Beneath A Mosh Pit
I went to an Amon Amarth concert while intoxicated, fell in the mosh pit, and nobody helped me up. I was essentially Mufasa in the Wildebeest pit for the entire duration of that song. Nobody stopped; the pit just kept going on around me.