Fact: A Croatian music teacher cheated death 7 times and then won the $1 million lottery
Frano Selak: music teacher by day… James Bond by night? It certainly seems that way for the 84-year-old from Petrinja, Croatia. His long list of narrow escapes started in 1962, when the train he was traveling on to Dubrovnik slipped off the rails and hurtled into an icy river, killing 17 of his fellow passengers. Selak managed to swim back to dry land suffering from hypothermia and a broken arm.
As traumatic as that individual event must have been, the gods weren’t through with him yet. A mere year later, switching his train travel for that of the sky, he was abruptly sucked out of the open door of the plane. This time the death toll was at 19 – but Selak woke up unharmed on a haystack.
Four years after his death-defying streak started, a bus he was on decided (like the train had previously) that the river would be a good place to hop in, and again he had to swim to shore, sporting only a few cuts and bruises. In 1970 he was driving along a motorway when his car caught fire and he escaped with seconds to spare before the vehicle went up in flames.
If you thought that four near-death experiences would be sufficient for any one human being, you would be wrong. Selak managed to lose nothing more than most of his hair in 1973 when the fuel pump of the car he was driving spilt petrol over the engine and blew flames through the air vents.
After a bit of a quiet spell, 1995 saw him get knocked over by a bus in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, and walk away with minor injuries, followed by the poor man driving through the mountains in 1996, only to turn a corner and realize he was headed for a head-on collision with a UN truck. His car skidded straight through the barrier and plunged down the mountain a full 300ft – something the Croatian had to watch from his perch in a tree, having jumped out of the doomed automobile moments before.
Anyone who has ever escaped death narrowly will tell you that it’s a toss up between feeling lucky to have survived it, or unlucky to have been in that situation in the first place. Regardless of Frano Selak’s 34-year streak of faulty modes of transportation, no one can doubt his luck when it came to winning the national lottery – a whopping $1 000 000 - which he gave away. Stating that “money can’t buy happiness”, the world’s (un)luckiest man now lives a modest life with his fifth wife in his home town where, for the first time in years, he feels truly blessed.
What do you think about Frano Selak’s story? Is he the luckiest man alive or simply cursed to live a very scary (or exciting) life? Tell us your thoughts or watch our video on Croatia’s craziest True or False facts game, covering everything from Dalmatians to Sea Organs!