This Skydiver Free-fell From 14,500 Feet Above And Survived!

This Skydiver Survived a Free Fall of 14,500 Feet!

Imagine launching yourself from 14,500 feet above, expecting a thrilling dive back to the ground, only to face a near-death experience. This was the reality for Joan Murray. Joan was a former banker turned skydiving enthusiast. Joan had completed 35 dives, each one fueling her passion for the sport.

Joan was not inexperienced. However, on January 25, 1999, in South Carolina, what was supposed to be her 36th routine jump spiraled into a life-threatening trial. Her main parachute failed and she had a dramatic free fall into a mound of fire ants. She had over 200 ant bites and something truly unexpected kept her heart beating until rescue came. Let’s dive in to learn the story of Joan’s second chance at life.

The Dive of Destiny

Joan exited the aircraft with the excitement typical of her previous jumps. However, things turned to terror when she tried to launch her main parachute. Shockingly, it didn’t launch.

Desperate, she pulled the toggle for her spare chute. Although it opened, it became tangled due to her rapid spin, only slightly slowing her drop. Plunging toward the earth at 80 miles per hour, her situation was alarming.

Statistically, a fall from 48 feet can be lethal 50% of the time, and from 80 feet, survival is nearly impossible. Yet, Joan was about to defy those odds in an extraordinary way.

Image source: UNILAD / X (previously known as Twitter)

The Ant Mound Miracle

Impact came unexpectedly when Joan landed directly on a mound of fire ants. At first, she was knocked unconscious by the fall. However, she soon awoke to the burning pain of over 200 ant stings. These weren’t just painful—they were also potentially lifesaving.

The venom from the fire ants triggered a surge of adrenaline in Joan’s body, helping her heart continue beating despite her critical injuries. This bizarre twist of fate kept her alive long enough for paramedics to arrive. When the rescue teams came, they found Joan in a bad state but alive.

Image source: UNILAD / Fact republic

Recovery and Reflection

Joan’s road to recovery was grueling. She sustained multiple shattered bones and lost several teeth. Her treatment included 17 blood transfusions and 20 reconstructive surgeries. Yet, her spirit remained unbroken.

Even after facing a near-death experience, Joan made a brave decision to return to skydiving just two years later. It speaks volumes about her resilience and determination.

“A miracle.”

Joan’s doctor simply wrote on her file.

Where is Joan Murray Now?

She continued to skydive, embracing the sport that nearly claimed her life, and lived another vibrant 23 years after the accident. Sadly, she passed away in May last year from cancer at the age of 70.


Joan Murray’s post-accident life was a testament to her indomitable spirit. Her story remains a powerful reminder of human resilience and the profound will to survive against all odds, resonating well beyond the skydiving world into the realms of miraculous survival. Joan’s legacy is one of courage, a beacon for anyone who faces their own figurative or literal falls.

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