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.
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.
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."