Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yemeni Flight's Lone Survivor

I am fascinated by the story of the 14-year-old woman who has turned out to be the lone survivor of the recent Yemeni airplane crash.

It's absolutely amazing to me that one, singular person could come out alive while 153 others died. 

Of course luck and chance must have played a role in her survival. But I can't help but think of Amanda Ripley's wondeful book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes. In this book, Ripley researches the thought-processes and brain chemistry of people who are able to survive major disasters. I just can't get away from the thought that there must be something outstanding about this young woman.   

I wonder what it is about this girl that makes her such a survivor. Her uncle has stated that she had a broken collar bone, had hit her head, had burns to her knees, and still managed to cling to plane wreckage for hours. According to one report, it was 13.5 hours. 


Gail Rae said...

This post interests me because I've always wanted to survive a devastating natural disaster; thus, I've wondered the same things you're wondering. Thanks for the tip about the book. I think I'll check out the book, especially since I've always assumed that it is the disaster that makes the survivors, since it has always seemed that anyone who lives through a disaster still has their life because of a random roll of the dice; once you realize you've survived, well, not to be repetitive, but the survival instinct kicks in and, circumstances permitting, that's when you find out what you're really made of. Maybe it's not all as random as I thought; or, maybe people become extraordinary because of what they find themselves having to face.

Jessica Knapp said...

Oh Gail, you will love this book if that has always interested you. It sounds sensationalistic by the cover and basic description, but it is so well researched, and put together in such a thoughtful way. It's a great piece.

And also, that is one of the funniest sentences I've ever read, that you've always wanted to survive a devastating natural disaster. But I know what you mean. It would be such a unique experience to pull from. I think I'd prefer not to go through the disaster myself, but I do find it fascinating to hear stories of survival.

This book argues that survival is not random, or at least not entirely random. Luck must play some role. But how much you are prone to anxiety, how well you follow directions, your life experiences, all of those things can play in.

I think you'll like this book as much as I did.