7 Miracle Falls: How Did They Live to Tell the Story?

Photo: 7 Miracle Falls: How Did They Live to Tell the Story? Against all odds, they survived death-defying drops.ABC News

The thumbs up sign skydiver James Boole was waiting for was just two minutes late.

But, when you're thousands of feet in the air, two minutes literally means the difference between life and death.

When he waited too long to open his parachute, the 31-year-old Brit plunged to the snow-covered mountains in a 6,000-foot freefall.

But the skydiving camera man miraculously survived.

Landing was "like being hit by a speeding truck," he said about last month's accident. According to the British Broadcasting Company, Boole was in Russia filming a TV documentary.

He suffered a broken back, a cracked rib, a bruised lung and broken teeth. Now, he's back at home with his family in a body brace.

"What went through my mind was my wife and my daughter," he told the BBC. "I really thought that I was going to die -- incredible feeling of sadness and just how unfair that was."

Every once in a while, against all odds, men, women and children survive death-defying drops.

Here are six other survivors who lived to tell the story.

Did Killer Abs Save a Life?

Abs of steel aren't just good for surfside sunbathing. During a paragliding trip to Andalusia, Spain last month, Peggy Williams learned that they can save your life.

When a gust of wind lifted Williams' paraglider before she could properly lift-off, the active 47-year-old was dragged across rocks on her stomach.

"I got a smack in my abdomen, right across it with a big rock," Williams said. "It didn't wind me but it took the air out of my lungs."

Williams suffered a torn liver and pancreas, a few scratches on her arms and legs and numerous bruises. She spent two days in intensive care, another six days of bed rest before she could sit up in a chair, but she did not require surgery and was not hemorrhaging internally.

"The doctors said someone with my injuries would be sent straight into surgery," Williams said. "But they told me 'you're fit. Your muscles helped you and saved you from anything worse.'"

Strong muscles alone aren't the most important protection for people who suffer serious injuries. But, doctors say, healthy, toned people are better primed to bounce back.

Tandem Terror: Rookie Diver Saves Himself

When his skydiving instructor suffered a heart attack at 13,000 feet, rookie diver Daniel Pharr's survival instinct kicked in.

In February, the 25-year-old Army private told ABC News that he was strapped to veteran diver Chip Steele, when, just moments after jumping from the plane, Steele went silent.

Pharr didn't know his instructor had just suffered a heart attack, but he knew that if he didn't do something quickly both of them could be in jeopardy.

"I knew something was wrong with him and I wanted to help him," Pharr told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview in February. "I had to assess the situation. And my military training kicked in. I didn't lose my cool because I knew it wouldn't do any good."

Although he had never sky-dived before, he learned the basics from an instructional video he'd watched before the jump and from watching other jumps on TV.

When Pharr landed, he tried to administer CPR to Steele but it was too late.

James La Barrie, the general manager of Skydive Carolina where Steele worked, said, "Chip would be so relieved to know that his tandem passenger was OK and unscathed. He loved sky diving and the joy it brought to the thousands of first-time jumpers."

Toddler Survives 3-Story Fall

Earlier this year, a 19-month-old girl in Port Arthur, Texas, fell from a third-story apartment window and survived. Authorities said she was leaning against an open window when the screen gave way.

The mother was reportedly doing laundry when the child fell to the ground. The toddler was transported to a nearby hospital but, luckily, suffered no serious injuries.

Jumper Survives Niagara Falls

In March, a 30-year-old man who police declined to identify survived a jump over New York's frigid Niagara Falls, according to the Associated Press.

Police were notified when tourists saw the man climb over a retaining wall and jump into the water. Not only did he survive the fall over the Falls, he didn't succumb to the cold water after being submerged for 45 minutes, police said.

Authorities would not release his name, but said he was a resident of western Ontario, Canada, and that he was expected to make a full recovery.

An estimated 37 million gallons of water rush over the edge of the falls every minute. Only two people had ever been known to survive such an experience.

'Miracle Man' Makes Recovers After 550-Foot Fall

Rescue workers were stunned. Doctors called it a miracle.

After falling 47 stories from a New York City skyscraper, Alcides "Miguel" Moreno not only survived, he walked again on his own two feet.

On a cold December morning in 2007, Moreno, in his late 30s, and his 30-year-old brother, Edgar, were washing windows together when the cables holding their scaffolding snapped and dropped the brothers, at up to 125 mph, to the concrete sidewalk below.

Edgar died instantly. But Moreno held on and rode the scaffolding, like a surfboard, to the ground beneath.

The hospital originally described Moreno's condition as a "complete disaster," that included several broken limbs and severe internal injuries.

But after 18 days in a coma and nine surgeries, he recovered movement in his limbs and was able to talk. Six months after the accident, he was able to walk on his own.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the companies that employed the window washers and installed the scaffolding, fining them a total of $40,000.

"I don't know what adjective you'd care to use, unprecedented, extraordinary," Philip Barrie, a doctor at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said at the time. "If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one."

Miracle Mom: Skydiver Gives Birth

When her parachute failed to open properly during a skydiving outing in October 2005, Shana Richardson saw her life flash before her eyes.

The Missouri woman fell 10,000 feet, hitting the ground at 50 mph. Her husband watched helplessly from above.

The doctors thought it was a miracle that she had survived at all. But when she was brought into the emergency room, they found a second miracle: She was 2 weeks pregnant.

Despite injuries to her face and limbs, several surgeries and 15 metal plates, both Shana and her baby survived the accident.

She gave birth to a healthy baby boy the following summer. Now, she's a mother of two.

"Things don't just happen. There are reasons and miracles that go on in our life on an everyday basis," she said after he first child was born. Now, she's a mother of two.