What is your definition of luck? Have a lucky break or win the lottery? Some could say it's being at the right place at the right moment, or even being in the wrong place at the wrong time and surviving. There was a man who had seen it all.
Frane (Frano) Selak was a Croatian music instructor whose amazing life tale earned him the nickname "the luckiest unlucky man who ever lived"... or perhaps the opposite. His life was so amazing that the fact that he married six times seemed insignificant in comparison to everything else he went through.
Selak was regarded as the guy who faced death in the eyes seven times and lived to tell the tale each time.
Selak was involved in nearly every means of transportation known to man during the course of four decades. Apart from a boat, which is where he was born in 1929. His parents were fishing near Dubrovnik when his mother, who was seven months pregnant at the time, went into labor early and gave birth on the boat before they could return to the shore.
The facts become a little hazy after that. Selak's life story has been widely shared online, and the more you learn about it, the more colorful it becomes. However, considering the nature of the events, it's conceivable that some elements may have been exaggerated at times.
Even yet, it's an intriguing story that mainly holds true, and we're not here to tear apart the man's legacy - here's how he claims it all happened:
In 1957, Frane Selak's first brush with death occurred when the bus he was riding went off the road and into a river. Both Selak and the bus driver were able to exit the bus and swim to safety. Ahmet the driver, according to Selak, never got behind the wheel without half a bottle of rakija in his system, despite being an exceptional driver. In reality, they'd both had a shot of rakija before getting on the bus, and the whole point of the excursion was to grab a few more rounds. They both walked away from the accident with minor scrapes and bruises.
On a rail journey from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik in 1962, disaster struck once more. The train jumped off the lines and crashed into the freezing river Neretva after a boulder landed on the tracks. Selak was able to break the compartment glass and exit the bus, sparing the life of a friend who was also traveling with him. Residents of the surrounding village rescued both of them from the river, with Selak suffering merely a fractured arm and hypothermia. In the accident, seventeen other people died.
Selak boarded a charter flight from Zagreb to Rijeka in 1963 to see his ailing mother. The aircraft was fully booked, but he said that he had a family emergency and persuaded the crew to allow him to board. He was seated in the plane's back row, close to Rozika, a flight attendant.
The jet had a technical fault not far from the destination airport and began losing altitude before crashing into a boulder.
Before the accident, the jet door was blown out, and Selak was sucked out at an altitude of 800 meters; despite all chances, he landed in a haystack, saving his life. All of the other passengers died in the collision, including Rozika. Selak, understandably, never boarded another plane.
Taking public transportation was ineffective. Selak was driving his car when it caught fire in 1970. He was able to jump out of the automobile and to a safe distance before the flames reached the gasoline tank.
Another vehicle ride went wrong in 1973. A defective fuel pump poured hot oil into the engine while Selak was driving, causing flames to shoot up through the air vents. Selak did not experience any further injuries save the loss of most of his hair.
A year later, on a mountain road, a UN truck almost hit Selak's automobile. Selak narrowly escaped a collision by swerving at the last possible time and colliding with a railing. His automobile crashed down the valley 100 meters below after the railing gave way.
Selak, on the other hand, was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident, and he apparently never wore one again after the tragedy. Before the vehicle went over and smashed, he sprang out the window and clung to a tree on a slope.
This was the last of Selak's near-fatal misfortunes, but it wasn't the final time he tested the bounds of fate. After everything he had gone through, Selak decided to try his luck at the lotto. It turns out that fortune favors the brave.
Selak won a 6,5 million kuna jackpot (about €900,000) a few days after turning 73. He bought a house and a vacation property with his profits, then generously gave the rest to friends and family. He allegedly bought and gifted 25 cars and lent money to a large number of people, the majority of whom he never saw again. It didn't make him resentful, and he joked that he didn't have much of a business sense.
Now that the senior has realized that "money cannot buy happiness," he has chosen to live a simple lifestyle. He has sold his beautiful property on a private island, given up his riches to family and friends, and returned to his humble home in Petrinja, central Croatia, south of Zagreb.
He saved the last of his earnings for a hip replacement surgery so he could spend more time with his wife and build a shrine to the Virgin Mary to thank her for his good fortune.
Mr. Selak stated that he had never felt happier in his life.
"At my age, all I need is my Katarina; money wouldn't make a difference," he remarked.
He died in 2016 when he was 86 years old. Selak has become something of an internet celebrity in the last decade or two, and his life narrative resurfaces every few years. Selak's extraordinary story was picked up by the BBC and The Guardian, as well as several smaller blogs and forums, in addition to the Croatian media.