Do you know the Final Destination saga? What if we told you there was a person who went through all the events in those movies? Reality always surpasses fiction. Yes, this is the story of Frane Selak, a man who experienced a series of events that made him either the luckiest or the unluckiest man in the world, depending on one’s perspective.
The Story of Frane Selak
How do we define luck? Is it surviving an accident or winning the lottery? Some would argue that luck lies in being in the right place at the right time, or perhaps, in the wrong place at the inopportune moment and still coming out unscathed. Frane Selak faced all of that and more.
This man was a music teacher from Croatia, whose astonishing life story earned him the nickname of the unluckiest man to have ever existed… or perhaps, this could be seen from another perspective. His destiny has been so extraordinary that his record of six marriages is almost overshadowed by everything else he has experienced.
Selak is known as the man who defied death repeatedly and managed to tell the tale… seven times, to be exact.
Over four decades, he was involved in accidents that spanned almost every known mode of transportation, except for a boat, which is curious considering he was born on one in 1929. His parents were fishing near Dubrovnik; his mother, in her seventh month of pregnancy, went into premature labor and gave birth on the boat before returning to shore.
Frane Selak’s first encounter with death happened in 1957 when the bus he was on went off the road and plunged into a river. Selak later commented that the driver, named Ahmet, never took the wheel without having consumed at least half a bottle of rakija, a regional alcoholic drink, but despite that, he was an excellent driver. In fact, they both shared a shot of rakija before boarding the bus, and the purpose of the trip was to stop for more before departing. Both survived the accident with minor cuts and bruises.
Misfortune struck again in 1962 during a train journey from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik. A rock fell onto the tracks, causing the train to derail and crash into the icy Neretva River. Selak managed to break the window of his compartment and escape from the carriage, even saving the life of an acquaintance traveling with him. Both were rescued from the river by nearby villagers, and Frane Selak suffered only a broken arm and hypothermia. Seventeen passengers died in the accident.
In 1963, Selak took a charter flight from Zagreb to Rijeka to visit his sick mother. The flight was full, but he explained that he had a family emergency and managed to convince the crew to let him board. He sat at the back of the plane, next to a flight attendant named Rozika.
Near the destination airport, the plane experienced technical failure and began losing altitude until it finally crashed into a rock.
The plane’s door detached before impact, sucking Selak out of the plane at an altitude of over 2000 feet; against all odds, he landed in a haystack that saved his life. Rozika also survived, while all other passengers perished in the crash. Understandably, Selak never boarded a plane again.
Trying to Change Luck
Frane Selak decided to stop using public transportation and acquire his own vehicle, believing that all his bad luck was related to it. In 1970, while driving, his car suddenly caught fire. He managed to get out of the vehicle and move to a safe distance seconds before it exploded.
In 1973, another incident occurred with his car. While driving, a faulty fuel pump spilled hot oil on the engine, causing flames to spread through the ventilation grilles. Although most of his hair burned, Selak suffered no other injuries.
In 1995, he was hit by a bus in Zagreb. Again, no serious injuries.
A year later, a UN truck nearly collided with Selak’s car on a mountain road. He avoided the collision by swerving at the last moment and crashing into a guardrail. The guardrail gave way, and his vehicle plummeted off the cliff, falling about 100 meters.
However, at that moment, Selak was not wearing a seatbelt; reportedly, he never wore one again after the tragic plane crash. He jumped out of the car window, clung to a tree on the slope just before the vehicle overturned and crashed.
This was the last time death knocked on his door, but it wasn’t the end of his luck. After turning 73, Frane Selak bought a lottery ticket and won the jackpot, 6.5 million kunas, equivalent to about $981,144. He bought a vacation home where he currently lives, far away from accidents… or at least, nothing more has been heard about it.