In case you have got a close shave with death while you are driving or traveling in a train but somehow emerge unscathed, you may deem your escape purely coincidental. And if you again cheat death by a hair’s breadth, coming out with your life and limbs intact, you might ascribe you’re getting away to the sheer stroke of luck. But how will you describe your deceiving death seven times at a stretch? ‘Providential’.

Believe it or not, an octogenarian man from Croatia, Frane Selek, had a hair-raising brush with death on at least seven occasions but managed to escape each time. And after Almighty decided that Selek had had enough, he rewarded him with a $ 1 million (£6, 00,000) lottery jackpot.  No wonder, Frane Selek has been dubbed the ‘luckiest unluckiest man in the world’.


His hide-and-seek story with death started way back in 1962 while he was traveling in a train that jumped off the tracks and plunged into an icy cold river. His final faceoff (with death) happened in 1996 when in an attempt to avoid a frontal collision with a truck his car hit a guardrail and fell 300 ft below into a canyon. However, he was thrown off the car while the vehicle was nose-diving since he was not strapped to a seatbelt and someway hung onto a tree.

His intensely fictional real-life saga has been adapted into a YouTube cartoon movie (below). The following paragraphs elucidate Frane Selak’s encounters with death as well as the miraculous escapes.

1962: Frane escapes with injuries from a train that plunges headlong into a cold river

It happened to be a very chilly morning when Frane boarded a train in Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia Herzegovina) that was headed to Dubrovnik, a tourist hotspot in Croatia. Unfortunately for him, the train derailed while passing through a precipitous ravine and plunged headlong into the freezing river below. A total of 17 passengers drowned to their deaths but someone pulled Frane out of the water as he escaped sustaining hypothermia and a fractured arm.

1963: Selak is ejected from a plane along with a few others but lands on a haystack

It seemed that the evil spirits were still in hot pursuit in 1963 when Selek was getting ready to board a plane in Croatia, his homeland. Incidentally, it was his first airplane ride and the only one to date. One of the doors of the airplane happened that was not functioning properly flew open and Frane along with 19 other passengers were sucked outside.

He kept on plunging downwards at breakneck speed owing to gravitational pull only to land in a heap of haystack. The 19 other passengers fell to their deaths.

1966: Frane swims ashore suffering minor injuries after a bus he was travelling in skids to fall into a river

In 1966, a bus that Frane Selek had boarded, careened while passing a viaduct and rolled down to fall into a river. Four of his co-passengers passed away but he somehow swam to the shore and managed to survive, taking on minor bruises and lacerations.

1970: Frane’s car catches fire while he is driving and rushes out just before the fuel tank explodes

While Frane was driving to a destination in 1970, the engine of his car began to burn. Sensing trouble, he rushed out of the car and within a few seconds, the fuel tank blew off.

1973: Car engine again catches fire due to a leaking fuel pump and his hair is singed thoroughly but he yet again survives

Exactly three years after the automobile explosion incident, the engine of Selek’s vehicle caught fire as it was drenched in hot oil that had seeped out of a faulty fuel pump. He desperately tried to rush out of the car as flames shoot up via the vents, and in the melee, his hair was thoroughly burnt. However, he survived to tell the tale.

1995: Frane sustains minor bruises  as he is hit by a bus in Zagreb but stays alive

After a long hiatus of 22 years, Frane yet again finds himself staring at death as he is hit by a coach in Zagreb but escapes with his life.

1996: His car struck head-on by a UN bus falls into a canyon but he lives to tell the tale

Within a year, while driving on a curvaceous mountainous path, his car is hit by a UN lorry coming from the opposite direction. His car breaks through the guardrail and nosedives into a ravine 90 meters below but he manages to cling to a tree and save his life.


After cheating death so many times, Frank is extremely lucky again, for the eighth time when he wins the $1 million in the Croatian lotto just two days after his birth anniversary. He went on to marry for the fifth time and eventually sold off the palatial home that he had bought with the sweepstake money and distributed the money to his near and dear ones.



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