World’s luckiest man escapes death multiple times and then wins lotto

Broken plane

Frane survives plane crash by landing on a haystack

Sometimes there are stories that are so unbelievable, top Hollywood producers on the lookout for the next blockbuster inspiration take one look at those extraordinary true-life tales and say: “Actually, we think we’ll pass. It’s just too damned ridiculous.”

One of those tales to make it onto surely destined for the movie exec’s rubbish bin is that of Frane Selak, who went from being infamous for escaping life-threatening incidents to becoming a millionaire.

Selak, a Croatian music teacher born in 1929, bagged $1 million in the national lottery in his home country. But that pales into insignificance compared to the events which befell Selak prior to his win.


First up, at the tender age of 33, Selak survived a train wreck while en route from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik in what was then Yugoslavia. 17 passengers perished when the train plunged into a river, but Selak escaped with just a few minor injuries.

That would be enough escapes for most people’s lifetimes, but just a year later Selak escaped from a plane after a mid-air accident when the cockpit door decided to part ways with the rest of the plane. Selak jumped and managed to land in the welcoming comfort of a haystack. Again, his injuries were minor.

After trains and planes, Selak decided to complete the Holy Trinity by being involved in an automobile accident, as three years after his plane escapades, he found himself involved in a bus crash. The bus plunged in a river (presumably not the same river as the train crash some years earlier) and Selak escaped unharmed.

Whether Selak’s travails say more about the state of public transport under the Communist Yugoslav regime rather than his bad luck, it’s hard to say. However, the accidents didn’t end there. In 1970 his car burst into flames at a petrol station, and three years after that his car – a different one, we’re thinking – also burst into flames. Both times he escaped relatively unscathed.

Selak’s final brush with death came in 1995 when he was hit by a local bus. Luckily, however, that proved to be his final mishap on the roads.

Just kidding – in 1996, Selak escaped near death after swerving to avoid an oncoming truck. He managed to jump out of his car before watching it sail down a ravine.


Death obviously decided to throw in the towel after that, as the accidents stopped and Selak continued with his life. That was until 2003 when he won top prize in Croatia’s state Lottery.

And people thought Virginia Fike was lucky winning the lottery twice, she has nothing on Frane Selak!

So, the Hollywood producers may not be calling any time soon, but that won’t matter to Selak who can sit back, relax, and count his cash while counting his lucky stars at the same time. Come to think of it, surely there’s an exec out there after a plotline for Final Destination 6…..?

Filed Under: Winners, Losers & Amazing Stories


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