To say that life is full of dangerous surprises is the understatement of the year. No matter who you are, what you’re doing, or where you live, tragedy can strike at any time. Sometimes it’s just a minor mishap, but other times it can be a matter of life and death. The very nature of chance makes these photos even more haunting. These are people who are just going about their lives, people who have no idea what’s about to happen to them. Mere moments away, disaster is lurking…

 

Is This Guy High?

If you’ve got acrophobia, or fear of heights, like a lot of us do, chances are just looking at this photo is making you feel a little bit sick. Imagine how he must feel! This daredevil is one of those people they call “urban explorers” – the kids who go around climbing through abandoned subway stations, building sites, and spooky old asylums.

Usually they’re doing it without a care in the world, like this guy. Unfortunately, he was one of the ones who took their adventurous spirit a little too far. He and his friends had climbed up to the stop of an unfinished skyscraper in Dubai, and he snapped this selfie just at the top. Only seconds later, he lost his grip on the scaffolding… and plunged to his death after falling over 100 stories.

Reynaldo Dagsa

Born in 1975, Filipino politician Reynaldo Dagsa had achieved both great power and adoration during his short lifetime. As a representative of the 35th Barangay (suburb) in Caloocan, north of Manila, his time in the office was known for its honesty and willingness to engage with difficult social issues. As a member of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team, he had cleaned up his little corner of the Philippines and made it safer for everyone.

But not everyone was happy with what he’d done. One criminal in particular, who had just been released from jail, was intent on getting his revenge on the man who put him away. And on New Year’s Day, 2011, he did just that. Reynaldo Dagas took this photo of his family without ever noticing what was in the background, and seconds later he was shot and killed.

The Hunter Becomes The Hunted

Us humans like to think of ourselves as being at the top of the food chain. And if eating Big Macs and shark fin soup wasn’t enough to prove it, some big men like to go out every now and again and face off with the wildlife, mano a mano and ojo a ojo. The only problem with that is that for all our smart phones and fast food and “intelligence”, we really aren’t always the apex predator.

Now we’ve got nothing against hunters, but you’ve got to admit that there’s a sense of irony to this photo. This guy’s pretty proud that he’s just bagged himself a huge elk, and there’s a vicious mountain lion in the background, about to prove who’s really king of the jungle. The man survived the attack, fortunately, by doing the most manly, big brave human thing he could do – running away.

Surfing With Sharks

Shark attacks might be slightly sensationalized by the media, but the cold-blooded beasts really do present a significant risk to surfers. Sharks don’t necessarily want to chomp down on a salty grommet, but with their wetsuits and silhouette on the water, surfers really do resemble a tasty seal meal. The rise in attacks over the last couple of years, particularly in Australia and South Africa, pretty much prove it. They’re not vicious, just hungry.

Even so, it’s hard to imagine knowing a 10-foot shark is in the water and still choosing to go out to chase the waves. Because that’s exactly what this guy was doing. He knew the shark was there, and he decided to surf up for a closer look. It sounds like a completely stupid idea, but somehow the surfer escaped with his life.

Lurking, Waiting

If you’ve already spotted the very real danger lurking in this photo, you’re doing far better than this lady. She stands there, smiling, completely unaware that one of the most cunning and prehistoric creatures to slither across this planet is sizing her up, consider her for his next meal. What happens next? That, friends, we can’t really tell you.

What will tell you is some saltwater crocodile facts, so you can come to your own conclusions. Living primarily in northern Australia and South-East Asia, they are one of the planets most fearsome killers and can grow up to 23 feet in length. They kill their prey by utilizing what is known as a “death roll”, clamping down on their body, dragging them into the water, and rolling them over and over until they drown. Several tourists have been killed by crocodiles in the last few years.

Superman

Okay, we know we’re going to lose a lot of fans here, but we want to just say one thing: wakeboarding is just about the dumbest sport ever. You’re basically just spending your time alternating between wallowing in a filthy lake and being dragged along at hugely dangerous speeds. Behind a boat probably driven by your drunken mate. You couldn’t ask for a worse cocktail of soggy boredom and life-threatening terror.

Don’t believe us? Think we’re wrong? Well, have a look at this picture. Not only is this guy about to land headfirst, at 90 miles per hour, into a brown cesspit or someone’s picnic table, but he’s probably going to take his friends out with him. They’re no better, either. They might survive like this superman wannabe did, but they’ll die of embarrassment when they realize their version of the sport makes them look like they’re sitting on a high-speed toilet.

Jump Jet

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the inherent risks of flying a plane. Although they no doubt understand it better than anyone! Flying is just one of those things that really is human ingenuity pushed to the limit. No matter how much we improve the technology, there’s always going to be catastrophes. Especially when you add a huge crowd into the mix.

Captured at an air show in America, this incredible photo shows just how dangerous it can be. Funnily enough, the crowd thought that the Harrier Jump Jet was just coming in close for the spectacle. Little did they know that the plane was out of control and about to come to a fiery end. Amazingly, the pilot managed to eject just in time, and neither he nor anyone watching were injured.

Crash Landing

This is one of those photos that looks completely fake, but believe us, it’s totally real. It comes from the Goodwood Revival in 2000, a race on the old British circuit that features vintage cars driven by ex-professional racers. Nigel Corner was one of those drivers, and the crash that sent both him and his Ferrari Dino flying was one that he’ll never forget.

This astounding feat of capturing this photo (it was taken by a man named Jeff Bloxam) was matched by the narrow escape of Corner. Although he broke 20 bones and his back and punctured both lungs, he survived, recovered, and even managed to race the very next year. The reason he survived, in fact, was that he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and so cleared the car before it rolled.

Robert “Budd” Dwyer

Of the millions that watched the highly-publicized trial of Robert Dwyer, not one could forget the shocking conclusion to this bizarre case. Robert “Budd” Dwyer was the Treasurer of Pennsylvania from 1981 onwards, and he had been accused of receiving bribes for a multimillion-dollar contract – a crime he would hotly deny. That is, right until the unthinkable happened on live television.

He had been convicted of the charges, and on January 23 was due to be sentenced. On January 22, though, he called a press conference to which dozens of reporters came to hear his version of events. Only they were not there to witness a confession. As they watched, Dwyer pulled a .357 magnum revolver out of an envelope and shot himself in the head.

The Ebola Virus

Over the past few decades, we’ve suffered at the hands of more than a few viruses. It’s perhaps the most frightening, and most frustrating killer of them all – a killer without a face, or body, or anything that we can place blame on. We just suffer slowly while the news outlets get bored, and hope that one day a cure can be found.

The recent Ebola outbreak – which is still on-going, in case you didn’t know – was just the latest in a series of appearances by the deadly infectious disease. No moment of it, though, has been captured quite so eloquently as this photo, of nurse Mayinga N’Seka. She was at the battlefront when the very first outbreak of Ebola occurred 1976, and the haunted look in her eyes tells an all-too-clear story. Two days later, she died.

William “Dave” Sanders

Amidst the wave of gun-related violence in the United States, there’s one terrible tragedy in particular that stands out. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since the events at Columbine High School shocked and saddened the nation, but its awful legacy seems to live on to this day. But do you remember the hero who stood stall amidst the carnage?

His name was William Sanders, affectionately known as Dave to his friends, colleagues and students. This photo records the heights of human bravery and his valiant efforts, as the teacher warned hundreds of students of the shocking events that were happening all around them. Although he was shot twice in the midst of the senseless rampage, his actions saved countless lives and forever earned him a place in our hearts.

Tina Watson

The death of Tina Watson while on her honeymoon in Australia is so full of twists and turns that it’s even been made into a movie. 11 days earlier she and her husband Gabe had wed, and as Gabe was supposedly a rescue diver they had decided to go on a scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef to celebrate. Two minutes into their first dive, Tina lost consciousness, sank 100 feet, and drowned.

Gabe called for help, but at that point it was too late. Over the next few days, suspicion rose as he gave 16 differing accounts of what happened that fateful day, and an eyewitness claimed to see the husband and wife locked in a “bear hug” before she sank. Not only that, but this chilling photograph was taken of her accidentally, abandoned on the sea floor. We’ll never know what actually happened that fateful day.

Going Overboard

Sometimes you see container ships sailing out at sea and you just think to yourself “how on earth do they not fall over?” Well, the answer is a combination careful loading, and weight distribution, good navigation, and, well, having a giant boat. As a matter of fact, losing a container or two isn’t such an uncommon thing in rough weather, but the risk is well worth the extra profit.

On the other hand, though, there are times when you just bite off way more than you can chew. This boat has done just that. The sea’s not even rough, but they’ve loaded the containers way too high (and badly), and have managed to scrape a semi-submerged reef. The result? Complete disaster, and no doubt a bunch of very angry importers.

 

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