What would you say is luck? Getting through an accident, taking the lottery? Others might argue it’s being in the ideal situation at the ideal time, or even being in the undesirable situation at the undesirable time and coming out uninjured. There is a man who has experienced everything and then some.
Frane (Frano) Selak, a music instructor from Croatia, earned the moniker “the luckiest unluckiest man to have ever lived”—or perhaps it was the other way around—because of his extraordinary life story. Given his unique fate, the fact that he was married six times just seems like a minor detail in light of all else he endured during his lifetime.
Selak earned the reputation of being a guy who had faced death head-on and survived, seven times in total.
Selak was involved in accidents involving practically every kind of transportation over the course of four decades. A boat, in fact; it was there that he was born in 1929. In the vicinity of Dubrovnik, his parents went fishing. His mother, who was seven months pregnant at the time, unexpectedly went into labour and gave birth on the boat before they could return to land.
But, the story is fascinating and mostly accurate, and we’re not here to tear apart the man’s legacy. Here’s how he describes what happened:
In 1957, Frane Selak experienced his first near-death experience when the bus he was riding in veered off the road and into a river. Selak and the bus driver both succeeded in exiting the vehicle, and they swam to land. Afterwards, Selak claimed that although Ahmet the driver was a great driver, he never went behind the wheel without having consumed half a bottle of rakija.
In reality, they both drank rakija before getting on the bus, and the original reason for the excursion was to go acquire a few more rounds. With only a few minor wounds and bruises, they both made it through the accident. In 1962, disaster happened once more while traveling by rail from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik. The train jumped off the tracks and crashed into the freezing river Neretva when a boulder dropped onto the tracks. Selak was able to escape the bus by smashing the compartment window, saving not only his own life but also the life of an acquaintance who was travelling with him.
Residents of the surrounding village helped both of them out of the river, and Selak merely sustained a fractured arm and hypothermia. In the crash, another 17 passengers perished.
In 1963, Selak travelled by charter from Zagreb to Rijeka to see his ailing mother. He managed to persuade the crew to let him board despite the fact that the flight was completely booked by explaining that he was experiencing a family emergency. He was seated behind Rozika, a flight attendant, in the back of the aircraft.
Not far from the destination airport, the plane suffered a technical glitch, lost altitude and eventually crashed into a rock.
The plane’s door was blown out before the crash, and Serak was sucked out of the plane at his 800-meter mark. Logica survived while all other passengers died in the crash. Unsurprisingly, Serak never flew again.
Quitting public transport didn’t do him any good. In 1970, Selak suddenly caught fire while driving. He managed to get out of the car and move to a safe distance seconds before the flames reached the fuel tank.
In 1973, another car trip failed. While Serak was driving, a faulty fuel pump leaked hot oil into the engine, causing flames to erupt from the vents. Most of his hair was sung, but Serak suffered no further injuries.
In 1995 he was hit by a bus in Zagreb. Again, no major injuries.
A year later, a United Nations truck nearly crashes Serak’s car on a mountain road. Selak avoided the collision by making a last-minute turn and hitting the guardrail. A fence collapsed and his car fell into a ravine about 100 meters deep. However, Serak was not wearing a seat belt at the time. He reportedly never used his seatbelt after the tragic plane crash. He jumped out of the car window and clung to a tree on the slope just before the car rolled over and crashed.
This was the last fatal disaster Serak experienced in his life, but it wasn’t the last time he pushed the boundaries of his destiny. As you know, after all Selak went through, he took the chance to participate in the lottery. It turns out that fortune favors the truly brave.
A few days after his 73rd birthday, Selak won his 6.5 million kuna (around €900,000) jackpot. He purchased his home and villa and shared his remaining profits generously with his friends and family. He reportedly bought and gave away 25 cars and lent money to many people. That didn’t make him bitter, and he occasionally joked that he wasn’t particularly business-savvy.
He died in 2016 at the age of 86. Over the past decade, Selak has become an internet celebrity, with his Life Story appearing every few years. Aside from the Croatian media, Serac’s astonishing fate has been covered by the BBC, The Guardian, and many small blogs and forums. A YouTube channel called This & That Visuals has turned his life story into an animated feature that has been viewed over 3 million times since the video was released in 2014. This particular case seemed to upset Selak the most. Because Selak didn’t like how the video turned out, and he didn’t like that others were benefiting from the hard times he went through without his contribution. He said at the time, “Americans don’t know anything. They gave me a mustache and ruined all my accidents.”