Every time a plane crashes and we hear of a sole survivor, mixed feelings follow – happiness for the survivor and family, sadness towards those who lost their lives and the family left behind. These emotions hold nothing to what the sole survivor has to deal with. Tons of questions arise within them which could easily lead to such state of mind as depression. Here, 10 touching stories of sole survivors of plane crashes have been culled. Please note that these are summaries and do not do enough justice.
1 George Lamson Jr of 1985’s Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 Crash
At a young age of 17, George Lamson Jr. became the ‘sole survivor’ of Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 which crashed in a field in south Reno on January 21, 1985, killing 70 people returning from a Super Bowl junket. His father was one of the passengers of the plane which developed a fault just one minute after take-off, reported as ‘a severe vibration’ by the co-pilot.
Upon rejecting the invitation for the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the crash in 2015, his words were “I don’t want to be remembered as the boy who survived this accident. I want to be remembered as the man that lived. Life is a gift for which I am always grateful for.”
2. How Ben Cauley Survived The Bar-Kays Tragedy
Ben Cauley suffered hypothermia and shock following a plane crash that claimed the lives of four members of Bar-Kays and Ottis Redding, a legendary soul singer, in 1967. Cauley couldn’t swim and said he didn’t even try when he was thrown into the freezing water as the plane crashed in Lake Montana. Luckily, he held on to a seat cushion which kept him afloat until a police boat came along. He went on to play with several other bands upon recovery but died on September 21, 2015, at the age of 67.
3. Annette Herfkens’ Dreadful Romantic Trip
When Vietnamese Airlines Flight VN474 traveling from Ho Chi Minh City crashed, it had two survivors: a man and a woman. However, several days later with no rescue team in sight, the man died. Annette Herfkens, the woman, became a sole survivor after spending 8 lonely and pain-filled days in the Vietnamese jungle. The trip, meant to be a romantic get-away trip for her and her boyfriend of 13 years to whom she was engaged, ended terribly.
4. 152 Perished, But 13-Year-Old Bahia Bakari Lived
In 2009, Bahia Bakari at age 13, held on to a piece of plane wreckage for nine hours without a life vest. The plane she was on, Yemenia Flight 626 crashed into the Indian Ocean off the island nation of Comoros killing her mother and 152 other passengers. Now an adult, she still enjoys her own company as reported by her dad.
5. Little Cecelia Cichan of 1987’s Northwest Airlines Flight 255 Crash
4-year-old Cecelia Cichan ‘woke up’ in a hospital bed to a life without her parents and brother. The entire crew (6), 148 other passengers of the airline and 2 people on the ground lost their lives. Cecelia, now married, has no memory of the incident but went ahead to get a tattoo of an airliner on her left wrist.
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6. Jim Polehinke The “Lucky” Co-pilot
As the co-pilot and sole survivor of the Comair 5191 plane crash in 2006, Jim Polehinke struggled emotionally and psychologically. Although paralyzed on the right leg from the knee down and living without his left foot, Jim’s advice to anyone in the same situation is “Keep looking forward.”
7. Erika Delgado’s Mom Had To Do Something
Erika Delgado was shoved out of a DC-9 Intercontinental airliner by her mother as it burst into flames in mid-air. She survived with a broken arm but lost her parents and younger brother. She was rescued by a farmer to whom she narrated the ordeal.
8. 3-Year-Old Mohammed el-Fateh Osman of 2003’s Sudan Airways Crash
In 2003, Mohammed el-Fateh Osman, aged 3, was found by a nomad on a fallen tree. He was the sole survivor of a Sudan Airways plane crash which killed all 105 passengers and 11 crew members. Mohammed suffered burns and the loss of his right leg.
9. The First Commercial Airliner Hijacked
The story of Wong Yu-man might not seem so touching as in 1948, he hijacked the Cathay Pacific aircraft Miss Macao subsequently leading to its crash and killing the 25 extremely rich passengers onboard. He spent three years in jail after being identified as the plane’s hijacker, the first ever.
10. The Youngest Of All Sole Survivors Of Plane Crashes
The world’s youngest sole survivor of a plane crash, Paul Ashton Vick, was barely 16 months at the time (January 1947). When the plane burst into flames, several of its 23 passengers leaped out including Paul’s parents carrying Paul and his elder brother, Theodore (aged 2). His dad (a Baptist pastor from Connecticut), stayed alive for 40 hours during which he gave a hospital personnel the names and address of Paul’s grandparents. Upon recovery, Paul lived with them in the U.S.