Yesterday major media reported on the December 23rd passing of Vesna Vulovic at the age of 66.
While her name isn’t as “big” as many others who made the far-too-long list of 2016 celebrity passings, she was a fascinating woman in her own right and holds a record that I strongly suspect may never be duplicated.
What’s the record?
Back in 1972 and at the age of 22 she was a flight attendant for JAT Yugoslav Airways. Due to a mix up, she was assigned to a flight from Copenhagen to Belgrade. One hour into the flight, the airliner blew up over Czechoslovakia and Ms. Vulovic, pinned in part of the rear of the plane, fell as much as 33,333 feet to the ground…and survived.
No one else in the flight survived the explosion and Ms. Vulovic would awaken in a hospital with no memory of her harrowing experience. According to Wikipedia:
…she suffered a fractured skull, three broken vertebrae (one crushed completely) that left her temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, and two broken legs. She was in a coma for 27 days.
The following article by Ruth Graham for Slate magazine offers a window into Ms. Vulovic, who never felt she was “lucky” to survive:
For a year filled with so much to be depressed about, I agree with Ms. Graham’s uplifting take on Ms. Vulovic despite her passing and while reflecting on this terrible year. As Ms. Graham points out, there’s something to be said for someone who faces an event so harrowing and near unimaginable yet offer the following words of wisdom:
“If you can survive what I survived, you can survive anything.”
So as this year ends (one more day), perhaps we should take those words from the ultimate survivor and look forward to -perhaps- better times.
May they come really soon.
Happy New Year, everyone!