Unlucky people. Have you ever got a sneaky suspicion that the universe is sometimes trigger-happy to assassinate you? However, you haven’t met Ann Hodges. She wasn’t particularly special but she was still in the universe crosshairs.
She lived in the town of Sylacauga, Alabama, was married to Eugene and enjoyed the occasional midday nap. But during one of these naps the locals of the town of Sylacauga reported seeing a bright light tearing across the sky that was followed by a series of explosions. This episode happened in 1954 and it was the starting point of her misery.
Ann was asleep on her couch when a piece of the meteorite – it looked like a black rock and the size of a softball – broke through her ceiling. It bounced of her radio and struck her in the hip. She’s the only person that was ever struck by a meteorite, ever.
So, more bad luck followed. Ann and her husband became some sort of celebrities in their town. Over the years they had to endure a lawsuit from their landlord, the overwhelming attention from the other locals, and struggled to sell the infamous meteorite to any interested museum. Ann suffered a mental breakdown in 1964 and died 8 years later.
Oh boy. Roy Sullivan. Poor, poor Roy Sullivan. He wasn’t a bad man and didn’t seem to have any real enemies. But it couldn’t save him from the combined wrath of literally every single thunder god that ever existed. Roy Sullivan, over the course of his life, was struck seven times by lightning. The odds of that happening are roughly 4.15 in 100 nonillion (odds are slim to none), meaning that Sullivan might be the unluckiest person in all of human history.
Right, he was struck (1) up a tower in a storm, (2) in his car while driving when a bolt conducted between two trees on either side of the road, (3) in his garden – even his hair set alight.
And so it went on. He got fed-up and retired after 6 lightning strikes, but was struck one more time while trout fishing. Oh, and he ran into a bear on his way back to the car.
He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 71.
This guy was the father of tragedy. He was one of Greece’s greatest playwrights and pretty much invented the whole idea of writing conflict between characters in a play. And he was a great warrior off-stage. Basically, he was pretty awesome.
And then an oracle told him that a house would fall on him and kill him. So he stayed away from buildings and lived outside as long as he possibly could. But, in an unimaginable twist, he was struck from above by a tortoise and was killed instantly. The tortoise was dropped by an eagle to break open the shell – which can be viewed as that of a tortoise house.
Stranger things have happened in the vast and strange world of antiquity.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi was a young man during World War II. In 1945, he also got caught up in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Mr. Yamaguchi, who, by his own account, was in town for a business trip and had just stepped off his train when the blast hit. He was temporarily blinded, lost the use of an eardrum, and was burned across the top half of his body. He survived, however, and escaped the city the next morning.
Unfortunately, home was Nagasaki.
Two days later, the second of the U.S. bombs was dropped on the city. Yamaguchi was in his office, explaining to his boss what had happened at Hiroshima, when a familiar white light filled the room. Eventually, he recovered from his burns and radiation sickness and went on to work as a dockyard engineer. He became a prolific activist in the fight against nuclear weapons and died in 2010.
Ramon Artagaveytia was born with the sea in his blood. He was raised in Uruguay by a family long associated with the ocean — his father owned an oar given to him by his grandfather, who had claimed that the family had “always survived” thanks to the sea.
It must have been quite the downer, then, when Ramon was caught up in the 1871 fire and sinking of the America. Of 164 passengers only 65 survived. Ramon, after the incident, became traumatized and kept away from the sea for the next 40 years.
Eventually, however, Ramon overcame his fear of ocean travel in time to visit his nephew at the Uruguayan Consulate in Berlin in 1912. On his way home, he decided to take a detour and visit the United States. Despite suffering from vivid nightmares and quite serious trauma, he pushed through, overcame his fears and boarded a ship to take him across the Atlantic.
The ship was the RMS Titanic. Ramon didn’t make it.
Yang Kyoungjong, who also lived through World War II, managed to incite the wrath of almost every major player in the conflict. He was a Korean soldier who was conscripted into the Japanese Empire’s army and shipped off to fight against the Soviet Union.
Shortly after, he was captured by the Soviets in battle and forced into fighting for the Russians against the Germans. Then he was captured by the German forces and, yes, conscripted again, being sent to Normandy to fight the Americans. There he was captured one final time by U.S. paratroopers.
By the end of the war, Kyoungjong had been captured four times and finally ended his war thousands and thousands of miles away from where it began.
Adolph Sax was in Belgium in 1814 and became a talented musician and instrument maker. But he had a really, really rough childhood. In his free time he spent his days falling out of third-story windows, slamming his head into rocks, drinking bowls of sulfuric acid, swallowing pins, burning himself in gunpowder explosions, falling onto cast-iron frying pans and burning himself that way, being knocked in the head by cobblestones, almost drowned in a river and almost suffocated by sleeping near varnished items at night.
According to his biography, his own mother was convinced he would never reach age 6, and he was known as “Little Sax the ghost” in his neighborhood. Of his ten siblings only three others survived past the age of 20. However, Sax went on to live a long and happy life.
Today, he is most famous for inventing the saxophone.