Some people are born risk takers. And lucky for the rest of us, they are willing to do some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Author Tom Jones interviewed many of these brave souls for his book, “Jobs That Could Kill You: True Stories of People Risking Their Lives to Make a Buck
,” where he details harrowing accounts from storm chasers, bull riders, tiger trainers and other daredevils.
We’ve compiled some of the most interesting anecdotes here.
After attempting the stunt, Blackwell ended up in a coma with a shattered pelvis, six broken vertebrae in his back, punctured lungs, a ruptured spleen, broken ribs, and a major head injury.
'I think the jump distance was 137 feet,' he says. ' I didn't go fast enough and I hit the edge of the safety ramp that covered the last three vehicles. I barely made it that far. The impact immediately ejected me off the motorcycle. I did one-and-a-half cartwheels and landed on my head, which destroyed a Kevlar helmet, and the bike shot way up in the air and did several cartwheels and came all the way down and landed beside me. When I impacted the ramp, I flew another 70 feet before I hit the ground. I was in really bad shape. I was on life support.'
Storm chaser Jeff Gammons says that during a hurricane there was 'sheet metal smacking into the building where we were'
Gammons describes an incident during Hurricane Charley in Punta Gorda, Florida -- a category 4 storm:
'We went from 40 to 50 miles an hour to 150 miles an hour. There was a trailer park that was about three blocks from us; the whole thing was torn, destroyed, and thrown in our direction. We had sheet metal smacking into the building where we were. We lost windows in the vehicles. We were on the floorboards while holding cameras up to make sure we got the shot but at the same time not lose an eye or something.'
Mixed Martial Arts fighter James Irvin was 'choked unconcious at least once' during his first training session
Irvin holds the record for the fastest knockout in Ultimate Fighting Championship history when he beat Houston Alexander eight seconds into the first round during their fight, but it took hard work to get him to where he is.
During his first training session in a Brazilian jujitsu place, he was 'choked unconcious at least once' and 'left there with almost black eyes -- not from getting punched -- from being choked.'
'I had piercings in my ears and nipples, and I took them out that night,' he says. 'They were all bleeding anyways.'
Pages grew up in the circus (her parents own Circus Pages), so she's been performing since she was a child.
'You are gonna have your wake-up calls,' she says. 'They are not pets. For them, when they touch you, it's not hard, but it is hard. You don't realise the kind of power they have in their paws. They are strong. Afraid? No, just besides the fact that there are six of them and one of me, and outweigh me by a big margin. They all weigh between four and five hundred pounds. And there are twelve eyes on me, and I just have two eyes on them.'
The 20-something-year-old now works for the Ringling Brothers.
For six years, Begbie was a navy corpsman stationed in Iraq before he was wounded. He discusses the incident:
'All of a sudden: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! They started lobbing grenades over the wall at us, and I got hit. They lobbed five grenades, but I only remember one. It took out 10 of us. The back of my leg was shredded up pretty good.'
'At that point, I was frozen. I remember thinking I'm done, I'm gonna take a round to the head any minute. I was prepared to die.'
And that's not the only deadly incident he's experienced.
'It's a tense job. Every day is tense,' he says. 'I think your biggest worry is something falling on you while you're cutting. In 2002, I was cutting just a regular redwood tree, and this other tree that I hadn't even touched broke off halfway up and slipped out of nowhere ... and it hit me right on the top vertebrae that controls your breathing and your heart.'
'Another time, I cut my left hand almost off. That would be in the days before they had chain brakes ... I lost my balance and fell forward. My hand went right down on the chain and wham, it cut all the way up my forefinger and thumb. I felt like I had been shot. Oh, it really hurt.'
Hurley started working in the woods at the age of 18.
Commercial diver Chris Moyer says it's scary to have 'zero visibility' while operating chainsaws underwater
Moyer describes his underwater construction job:
'On one job, I used a hydraulic chainsaw underwater to cut off a little retaining wall. I couldn't see because there was zero visibility, so you have to get your chainsaw and punch-cut this wall, which means to stick the chainsaw straight through the wall.
'So, get the tip of the chainsaw set against the wall, fire the chainsaw up, punch-cut it. Then you got to get through the wall, and then you have to cut a fairly straight line horizontally without cutting the hose to the saw and without cutting your air hose, and without chopping your leg off.'
'When the boar starts rocking, you gotta get your balance. I've been knocked over by waves, and that's not a good feeling. You're talking about standing right there by that rail and the boat takes a roll this way, a roll that way, and the next thing you know a roll comes and you got waves crashing over the bow. When you're out fishing, you aren't tied down. The water is coming up so fast, you can't even place your feet. You have to spread your legs to where you can balance yourself. When those waves out there get to be 20 to 30 feet, that's no joke.'
McBride always knew he wanted to be a bull rider. His dad and grandfather were both riders. However, at the age of 29, he retired after receiving 'a concussion, strained neck and facial and oral lacerations when his head collided with a bull's head and he was thrown hard to the ground.'
Jim Dickerson is a prison guard who says his weapons don't stop the inmates from 'reaching out and grabbing hold of you'
Dickerson has worked at Pelican Bay State Prison for 20 years.
'We don't utilise the dining rooms anymore because of violence issues,' he says. 'Now, they eat in their cells. When I work extra shifts I'll be involved in the feeding of the inmates. We're armed with batons and chemical agents, but basically all we're doing at that time is taking the food to them, opening the small food port, passing the food through. They're standing right at their cell doors. That doesn't prevent them from reaching out and grabbing hold of you or your equipment or reaching through and stabbing you.'
In November 2001, Burrell was on the tracks in Miami changing a tire when a car hit another car and slammed it into the car Burrell's crew was working on.
'The front of that car hit so hard it flipped me over, snapped my neck back, and I landed on the back of my head on the concrete,' he says. 'I was bleeding from my eyes, my ears, my nose, my mouth. The prognosis was they gave me like a 20 per cent chance of living. It fractured my skull from the top part of my eye across my temple to the back of my head.'
During another incident, Burrell had a car run over his ankle when it drove too close to him while he was changing the tire for another car.
Shiner has been a coal miner for 32 years.
'What we do sucks,' he says. 'I mean, it's a different environment working underground. It's tough to explain. Go underground and see what happens. Life is different, life is cruel, life is tough. It takes a beating on your body, and it beats you to death. It's not easy. I'm not claustrophobic, but we're all afraid of the dark because you don't know what's going to kill you. That's what the dark is.'
Mullally describes a life-threatening incident on the job:
'A bad day is when somebody gets hurt ... as a young man, I wasn't that good. One time I was go-like-hell into the macho part of it and working real hard and beating the other guy. I was on a rotten pole and I had it tied to a brand new pole. I was probably about 20 feet up, and I thought I was going to be OK, thinking this phone wire is gonna hold it up and I'm not, so I grabbed the phone wire and wrapped my legs around it like I was just going to ride it. I rode it and it smashed my ankle, and I headbutted the street and rolled off the pole, but I never went unconcious.'
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