'100 to 1 Odds': Man Survives 15-Story Fall in New Zealand


Falls are most common among the elderly, the second cause of unintended death for trauma behind motor vehicle accidents, according to Kman.

"Young healthy kids have better outcomes than the elderly," he said.

In the animal world, cats fare much better than humans.

Last year, Sugar the cat, fell out of a 19-story apartment building in Boston and survived, probably because she landed on a pile of mulch. The local animal rescue league reported that after the fall, the cat ran back into the apartment building.

The reason, say veterinary researchers is that cats have a larger surface area for their weight as they fall with legs extended, which gives them a lower terminal velocity -- about 60 mph, compared to an average-sized male at about 120 mph. When cats hit the ground, they have fewer injuries.

In physics, terminal velocity is the constant speed attained by a body while falling through a gas or liquid.

"Terminal velocity is something that plays into this," Kman said. "But people are not meant to fall off three-story buildings. And I have a feeling that you reach [terminal velocity] some point before 15 floors."

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