19 Near-Fatal Experiences That Made People Fear For Their Life, According To Those Who Lived Through Them

Note: Some of these stories might be triggering for a myriad of reasons, so please read with caution. 

While a lot of us are highly aware of how fragile life can be, nothing prepares us if we ever experience a near-fatal situation. So when I saw that Reddit user u/[deleted] asked: "When have you ever feared for your life? Why?", I thought it would be important to share some of the stories. Here's what they had to say below.

two men hugging outside
Sarah Mason / Via Getty Images

1."A 7.2 earthquake in Japan made the apartment I was in wobble like Jello. I tried to stand up in my chair and walk away from the window, but I ended up crawling away and having a small bookcase spill my books on me. I spent a few seconds leaning against the inside wall/sliding closet, looking at the ceiling and having a very vivid picture of being crushed to death by collapsing concrete and debris. I slept outside for two nights after evacuating. The apartment did not even have a crack in it! 10/10 would recommend Japanese government housing."


2."When I got caught in a riptide while stupidly swimming alone in the ocean."

a riptide from above
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3."My ex was driving and a moose walked out in front of the car."


"Moose are no joke. Every person I know who's been in an accident with a moose has their entire car totaled and the moose just walks away like nothing happened."


4."Every time I’ve had a random acute panic attack. No known trigger, no particularly stressful situations, just living my life and then, without warning or reason, feeling absolutely certain that I’m dying. One of the symptoms of a panic attack is a feeling of 'impending doom.' Inconveniently, that is also one of the hallmark symptoms of a heart attack. There is a loooooot of overlap between those two things."

a woman touching her chest
Issarawat Tattong / Via Getty Images

5."I was rafting. Our supplies and cooler were tied down. The cooler got dislodged on a rock when we capsized and my left leg got tangled up in the rope. I was being dragged down by the weight of the now water-filled cooler, which was also tangled in a submerged tree. Nobody could swim through the current to me. I luckily had a knife on my hip and had to submerge myself under the water to cut the rope. We were hungry that night but I was lucky as hell to be alive."


6."It wasn't the only time or most frightening time, but the most memorable was when I was a teenager and got pinned to a wall by an extremely agitated cow. She'd knocked her water bucket over and I was replacing it and she charged at me. I just happened to fit exactly in between the horns. I do mean exactly — I had matching bruises on each side like I'd been hit twice with a pipe. She hit hard enough to drive her points a couple of inches into the wall and stick. I've been in car accidents, fallen off things, been in fights, and even had a young tree fall on me. None of that compares. It felt like being caught by a huge wave."

a cow with horns

"Anyway, I bonked her as hard as I could on the forehead and bolted out the door when she pulled her head back. The whole thing took maybe two seconds tops.

My parents were right outside, and they thought I'd just been killed. The wall was solid for the first four feet, then two-inch gaps between 2x8 boards for the rest. They saw the whole thing but couldn't see me below my shoulders — just the charge, the catch, the wall crack from the impact, and the horns pushing through."


Oleg Breslavtsev / Via Getty Images

7."As teens, we were about 14 or 15 years old, my friends and I had a random creepy dude walk up on us, at my neighbor's house, while having a sleepover. Her driveway was super long, and we lived in the middle of nowhere."


8."I rode out Ian when I was in North Port, FL. We were within the eye wall for a good eight hours. The plywood was ripped off several windows and then the glass broke. Water poured into the house, the wind was blowing so fiercely I thought we were in a tornado. I don’t know how much more I could’ve taken. If the storm hadn’t moved on, it was a long terrifying night."

a hurricane from space
Roberto Machado Noa / Via Getty Images

9."So, when I was a kid, we were making pancakes one morning during a thunderstorm when lightning struck a tree in my yard. We turned to look out the window and saw a flaming tree falling straight towards us. My mom yelled to run — so we did. My little brother tripped and I stepped on him. It was terrifying. The tree ended up bouncing off the house and sort of rolled off. We were fine."


10."I have a more light-hearted one. I heard strange noises from my basement and thought someone broke in. My heart was racing and I didn't know what to do. I kept listening down the stairs at the noise and decided it wasn't human. Turns out a woodpecker came into the house and was flying around. I managed to shoo him out the door and breathed a sigh of relief."

a woodpecker on a tree
Veena Nair / Via Getty Images

11."I hydroplaned when someone break-checked me and ended up in a ditch. I was fine. My car was fine, but my heart rate was going all over the place."


12."When my lung collapsed the first time (spontaneous pneumothorax), and I staggered over from the pool I just closed down while working as a lifeguard to the manager's office to collapse on his couch and ask him to call 911. I remember my vision going black around the edges as I walked a couple of hundred feet or so while the pain stabbed into my chest and neck like a knife. I never have felt such pain before or since. I got hauled off in my first and only (so far) ambulance ride. It happened four more times after that (and hasn't happened for about 12 years now), so I got pretty used to it eventually...to the point where I once walked into an urgent care and told them 'My lung collapsed yesterday and sleeping it off didn't work.'"

a lung x-ray

"The doctor didn't believe me and then apologized for not believing me after seeing the X-ray. He said I needed to go to the ER right away. I stopped to get Wendy's on the way and then finally got the chest tube and multi-day inpatient stay I'd been trying to avoid. That was the last (and hopefully final) time."


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13."Playing an outdoor game we called 007 at age 11 where you get dropped off a distance away from a home base and you have to sneak back in the dark without being spotted by your driver, who would call you out if they saw you while driving around the neighborhood. I and a friend were sneaking through irrigation canals to be off the main roads (and not through people’s properties) and someone whose backyard we were sneaking past cocked a shotgun and fired a warning shot into the ground of his yard. We crawled on our stomachs in the canal until we were far enough away. It was pretty scary at 11."


14."On a flight in 2012, the plane suddenly dropped like a stone for roughly 5–10 seconds. It was pretty unexpected because there wasn't any distinctive turbulence before then. It was so bad that the overhead bins opened and luggage bounced around the cabin. Books, computers, tablets, and drinks were all over the place. The engines got really loud and a flight attendant got thrown down the aisle but was uninjured. I had time to think, 'We're dead,' and then it leveled off. Most people were laughing and smacking each other on the back, while I had a panic attack. After that, the flight was mostly fine but I was so terrified that I looked into renting a car at the airport and driving the 12 hours to my destination. It was way too expensive, so I very, very reluctantly got on my next flight, which was uneventful."

window view from a plane
Kathrin Ziegler / Via Getty Images

15."The epidural went up instead of down for my C-section. First I tasted something gross in my mouth. Then I couldn't breathe properly and told the doctor, but he didn't believe me. He just told me to breathe deeply. Then I 'fell asleep.' So I obviously coded for a while after that bullshit. I was so scared while everything was going numb. And I mean NUMB."


16."My friend and I were going to the gym. At the intersection, at which he was supposed to turn into the parking lot, he turned the other way and went down a road. There were no other cars ahead of us or behind us. He then proceeded to step on the gas and go 120mph down the road. The road was wet, too, and it wasn’t completely straight. All of this without my consent by the way. He informed me he was going to do this as he was making the turn, but I thought he was joking. When I realized he was serious, all I could do was close my eyes and hope for the best. The amount of helplessness and despair I felt in those two minutes was enough to almost make me vomit. Then he turned around and came back the other way, slowing back down to 30mph as he neared the intersection. Thank goodness everything turned out ok — that could have gone way worse. No matter how good of a driver you are, please never do stupid shit like that. We aren’t friends anymore by the way."

a man driving fast
John Lamb / Via Getty Images

17."I was riding my bike down a steep mountainside as a kid when the brakes gave out. I rode perpendicular to a fallen tree. Apparently, the tree was propped up and my front tire got wedged, which caused me to be catapulted off the bike and into a pile of large rocks. Luckily, I was wearing a helmet; unluckily, it was an open-face helmet. I don’t remember the impact, but I do remember slightly waking up sometime around the initial surgery and seeing people (doctors/nurses) crowded around me with the surgical PPE getups on. Well, due to the blinding lights and anesthesia, it looked like the surgical staff was wearing Ghostface masks (the killer in the Scream franchise). I was almost certain that I was dead. All good now…although, I would have preferred not learning about Aristotle’s classification of violent motion the hard way."


18."During a field trip a long time back. We all were climbing this hill (at the bottom was the edge of a cliff). I lost my grip and was sliding down at a pretty fast pace. I ended up catching a branch that someone was holding for me on the way down."

a kid climbing a rock with a dog
Tatiana Maksimova / Via Getty Images

19."I had my first heart attack at the ripe old age of 32. I didn't know that it was a heart attack because when it started, it was more like the pressure that comes with congestion. I'm young enough that even as the pressure, and eventually, the pain that came on, was not anything that made me think, 'Hey, I'm having a heart attack.' I had to work that day so, even with worsening symptoms, I showered, grabbed my stuff, and headed to the bus stop I used to get to my job. After I got on the bus, the pain started to ramp up, but I was still being stubborn (having no health insurance at the time may have also impaired my judgment), so I made up my mind to just 'tough it out' and go to work."

"The bus felt like it was going way slower than usual, hitting every stop for full off and on loading of passengers. Halfway to my job, I could hardly breathe and the pain was getting to a point that it was scaring the shit outta me. Then I had this bizarre moment of clarity. When my heart attack finally ramped up to a whole new level, I thought, 'If I don't get help, I'm going to die.' In my life, up to that point, I had moments that left me shaking and laughing (to deal with what had just happened) about dodging death.

The heart attack was something else, something unique. I've had more than one heart attack now, and the pain has been different for each as they have been in different parts of my heart. The right coronary artery feels different from the circumflex, and both were nothing compared to when my LAD (left anterior descending artery) was 99% blocked.

But there's a chilling difference between the thought: 'Whoa, I could have died' after an accident, and the certainty when I was having my first heart attack, of like 'If I don't get help, I am going to die.'

Death, as in my mortality, didn't seem quite as real when I had dodged it. But the inescapable presence of death, as a tangible thing, at that moment in time, let me know that it was coming for me, and it still has a visceral place in my brain to this day.

Subsequently, I'm much calmer and less bothered by the thought of death. I accept it as the one fair thing in life. The when, the why, and the how are rarely fair. But, everything dies. Hell, even our sun will die someday. I believe death and our mortality can either makes us good people or drives us to be the worst we can be."


Was there ever a moment when you feared for your life? If so, tell us what happened in the comment below.