BATTLING WITH NATURE
FOUR PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THEIR STORIES OF SURVIVAL
A. Lester Morlang was buried in an avalanche in Colorado.
There was no warning. It was instant. All of a sudden I was curled up in a ball. Then it was over and I was buried under about fifty feet of snow. It was totally dark. My mouth was packed with snow and the pressure was enormous. It was hard to breathe and I didn’t know which direction was up. I thought I was already dead. Luckily I had my hands over my face so I cleared the snow out of my mouth and then I started screaming. I absolutely lost it – I was out of my mind, and then I noticed my tears were running across my face so I realised I must have been lying upside down. Now I felt determined to get out. I dug for twenty-two hours, and when I finally saw the first little bit of light I was over the moon, although it was fourteen hours before anyone found me.
B. Rod Herd was on a boat with the New Zealand Police Search and Rescue team when he nearly drowned.
When we hit the wave, I was thrown against the window, which smashed and let in a tremendous volume of water. There was no air, just pitch darkness, noise and violent movement. I had no idea the boat had overturned. I felt sad, anxious and despairing, and the fear of drowning was unbearable. I couldn’t hold my breath any longer and at this point I had a vision of my wife and sons waving me goodbye, and I felt at peace. But then I grabbed a stair rail and found myself back in the real world. I managed to pull myself up to the surface and then had to deal with the shock and hypothermia. Trying to stay afloat kept my mind off it, although I had to fight the desire to go to sleep. When the helicopter arrived soon afterwards, I vividly remember feeling disconnected from the people who were there to save me.
C. John Neidigh survived a tornado in Mississippi.
I heard the warning on the television and had just enough time to lie down and cover my head with my arms. The feel of a twister approaching is like a goods train – that low, ever-louder howl and the shuddering ground. First, a sheet of rain sprayed against the side of my trailer machine-gun fire. I could hear trees snapping, and the roof began to come off as the trailer started moving up and down. Just as I felt the entire trailer lift off the ground, I lost consciousness and woke up in a tree, and then dropped to the ground. I had concussion, a collapsed lung, cracked ribs and a shattered leg. These things should have killed me but the surgeons sewed me back together again.
D. Max Dearing was on the golf course in North Carolina when lightning struck.
It happened on a lovely July afternoon while I was playing golf with friends from work. When it started to drizzle, we decided to get under a shelter. We were standing there teasing each other and I remember the air had an unusual sweet smell. When the lightning struck, I felt absolutely frozen but then part of me was boiling hot too. I saw these flashing lights and there was such an incredibly loud noise that I couldn’t hear anything for a while. My arms and legs felt heavy. Every bit of my body – including my hair, my eyelashes- hurt. It was a dull ache and yet so sharp at the same time, like a bad headache and needle being stuck in every part of your body.