The following is reprinted from Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader book.
Frane Selak. Image: 1dir1.org
Is he lucky ... or unlucky? You decide.
THE SELAK ZONE
On a cold January day in 1962, a Croatian music teacher named Frane Selak was traveling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik by train. Well, that's where he thought he was going. Little did he know what he was actually about to embark upon a strange 40-year odyssey marked by freak accidents and near-death experiences.
The train carrying Selak in 1962 inexplicably jumped the tracks and plunged into an icy river, killing 17 passengers. Selak managed to swim back to shore, suffering hypothermia, shock, bruises, and a broken arm, but very happy to be alive.
One year later, Selak was on a plane traveling from Zagreb to Rijeka when a door blew off the plane and he was sucked out of the aircraft. A few minutes later the plane crashed; 19 people were killed. But Selak woke up in a hospital - he'd been found in a haystack and had only minor injuries.
In 1966 he was riding on a bus that went off the road and into a river. Four people were killed - but not Selak. He suffered only cuts and bruises.
In 1970 he was driving along when his car suddenly caught fire. He managed to stop and get out just before the fuel tank exploded and engulfed the car in flames.
In 1973 a faulty fuel pump sprayed gas all over the engine of another of Selak's car while he was driving it, blowing flames through the air vents. His only injury: he lost most of his hair. His friends started calling him "Lucky."
In 1995 he was hit by a city bus in Zagreb but received only minor injuries.
In 1996 he was driving on a mountain road when he turned a corner and saw a truck coming straight at him. He drove the car through a guardrail, jumped out, landed in a tree - and watched his car explode 300 feet below.
BAD NEWS (AND GOOD NEWS) TRAVELS FAST
By this time he was starting to get an international reputation for his amazing knack for survival. "You could look at it two ways," Selak said. "I am either the world's unluckiest man or the luckiest. I prefer to believe the latter." How does the story of Frane Selak end? Luckily, of course.
In June 2003, at the age of 74, Selak bought his first lottery ticket in 40 years ... and won more than $1 million. "I am going to enjoy my life now," he said. "I feel like I have been reborn. I know God was watching over me all these years." He told reporters that he planned to buy a house, a car, and a speedboat, and to marry his girlfriend. (He'd been married four times before and reflected, "My marriages were disasters, too.")
Update: In 2004 Selak was hired to star in an Australian TV commercial for Doritos. At first he accepted the job, but then changed his mind and refused to fly to Sydney for the filming. Reason: He said he didn't want to test his luck.
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader, a fantastic book by the Bathroom Readers' Institute. The 17th book in this the Bathroom Reader series is filled to the brim with facts, fun, and fascination, including articles about the Origin of Kung Fu, How to Kill a Zombie, Women in Space and more!
Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!