Drama in Real Life: A Collection of Reader’s Digest’s Most Gripping Survival Stories

Can’t get enough of the heart-stopping survival stories in Reader's Digest's Drama in Real Life section? You’ll be on the edge of your seats as you’re drawn into these dramatic tales of everyday people suddenly cast into life or death situations.

Bali jungle illustrationIllustration: Mark Smith

How A Facebook Thread Saved Two Friends Who Were Gravely Injured in the Bali Jungle

Michael Lythcott and Stacey Eno’s scooter ran off the road, leaving them broken, bleeding and trapped in a Balinese jungle. Worse: no one knew. Then Michael, hours from death, got a signal on his phone.


Fire surrounding a car on a highwayPHOTO: NOAH BERGER/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Fire Tornado!

Unstoppable wildfires are becoming the new normal. In 2018, an inferno that reached 1,500 degrees Celsius left a trail of destruction and death in Northern California. Here’s the truly terrifying story of the people trapped in the flames.


40 Hours Lost at Sea

Ordered to abandon ship in heavy weather, a badly injured second officer survives for nearly 40 hours in churning seas off Thailand.


Free Fall at Death Canyon

Her climbing rope had malfunctioned. Now, 275 metres above the floor of Wyoming’s Death Canyon, Lauren McLean clung to a ledge barely wide enough to support her broken body. And a storm was rolling in. A Reader’s Digest classic, originally published in 2014.


Glacier illustrationIllustration: Kagan McLeod

Trapped Inside a Glacier

Mountain climbers often fall through cracks in the ice, but those who survive haven’t fallen a long way, aren’t by themselves and aren’t injured. John All was all three.


Jeremy Osheim and Molei WrightPhoto: Courtesy Molei Wright

“Don’t Die. I Love You.”

A devastating collision left Molei Wright’s head attached to her shoulders by nothing but skin and muscle. The odds of surviving the condition, known as internal decapitation, are one in 100.


Bitten by a decapitated rattlesnakeIllustration: Steven P. Hughes

The Rattler’s Revenge

When Jeremy Sutcliffe decapitated the poisonous snake, he assumed that would be the end of it. He was wrong.


Russian adventurer Sergey AnanovPhoto: Alexander Gronsky

Stalked By a Polar Bear

After crash landing in the frigid waters of the Davis Straight, Russian helicopter pilot Sergey Ananov must battle severe hypothermia, crushing fear and one very persistent predator.


Barry Lynch was pinned under a 10-ton trailerPhoto: Veronica Sagredo/Blueclick Photography

Pinned to the Earth—With Only a Pocket Knife to Escape

The sugar-cane paddock was quiet as Barry Lynch’s scream pierced the air. The farmer was pinned to the earth by a 10-ton trailer and kilometres away from help.


I got attacked by a sharkIllustration: Dominic Bugatto

Shark Attack

“Something huge hit me with tremendous force on my left side and heaved me through the water. I realized I had been attacked by a shark.”


Avalanche on mountainPhoto: Shutterstock

On Fragile Ground: Trapped and Alone on Mount Logan

Natalia Martinez’s ambition to stake a claim for female climbers took her to Canada’s highest peak. That same determination would save her life.


An abandoned car in a Manitoba snowstormPhoto: ShutterStock

Blizzard Bound

The day had dawned crisp and clear, but early spring can be an unpredictable time on northern roads. Ernest Castel and his passengers would soon be stranded in their car, buried under a massive Manitoba snowstorm.


Sydnie Uemoto and her co-pilot Dave McMahonPhoto: Oliver Koning/Reader's Digest

Two Pilots Were Flying from Oahu to Hawaii—Then They Heard the Engines Go Quiet

They swam through jellyfish, the threat of sharks and 25 kilometres of exhaustion before being sighted.


David Finlayson snapped this photo of his son, Charlie, in the Bighorn Crags shortly before they attempted their most complex climb.Photo: David Finlayson

The River of No Return

When a rock-climbing trip goes disastrously wrong, a 13-year-old boy is forced to make a heartrending decision: should he leave his severely injured father to look for help?


Drama in Real Life - airplane crisisPhoto: Shutterstock

Failure on Flight 516

High over northern Russia, an airplane’s control systems begin switching off, one by one…


Strong rapidsPhoto: Shutterstock

Stranded at the Top of a Waterfall, These Rafters’ Only Hope Was to Send a Message in a Bottle

It was a long shot… but it worked.


wolf snarlingFreder/Getty Images

The Chilling Story of a Wolf That Tore Into a Family’s Tent During the Night

“Backing out was a wolf, dragging something in his teeth. That thing was a man.”

Next, check out these good news stories from around the world.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada