History details some truly unbelievable great escapes. One of the most incredible brushes with death involved Joan Murray.

In 1999, both of Joan’s parachutes failed while skydiving, leaving her to free-fall 14,5000 feet above North Carolina. It would have been certain death if it weren’t for her landing on a mound of stinging red ants. But, it wasn’t the mound that broke her fall and saved her, it was the 200-plus bites from the ants that kept her heart beating and adrenaline pumping. Despite spending two weeks in a coma, she was released from the hospital six weeks later. Joan even skydived again in 2001!

fire ants

Joan’s more modern survival story is unforgettable, but it was Wenseslao Moguel that caught the attention of Robert Ripley.

The Story of El Fusilado

Pancho Villa was one of the most famous leaders of the Mexican Revolution. After escaping to the United States, Villa’s revolutionaries were still at odds. One of them: Wenseslao Moguel, branded as a traitor, was sentenced as such—to die by firing squad.

execution by firing squad mexico 1914

During the Mexican Revolution, firing squads were the preferred means of execution. The squad was comprised of nine soldiers who would all fire their weapons at the same time. The tenth shooter, an officer, was to aim at one of the prisoner’s vital organs and deliver the “coup de grace”—the kill shot.

March 18, 195, could be seen as either Wenseslao’s luckiest, or unluckiest day. The Federales took their positions and fired—even the tenth. Assuming he was dead, the job was done and the soldiers left, but Welseslao survived! Although in excruciating pain, he waited until the coast was clear and, miraculously, left the scene to make his way to safety.

Though horribly disfigured, Wenseslao Moguel went on to live a full life, and became legendary thanks to Robert L. Ripley, founder of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. He appeared on his 1937 radio show and at the Cleveland, Ohio, Odditorium, where he was dubbed El Fusilado—the executed one.

el fusilado survived execution