Survivors Club: Man Plunges 39 Stories and Survives

By Ben Sherwood

It sounds utterly impossible: A New York City man jumps 39 stories from the roof of an Upper West Side apartment building, slams into a parked car and survives.

"Miracle!" proclaims the New York Daily News.


The Survivors Club


By Ben Sherwood

On Tuesday morning, Thomas Magill, 22, plunged from a West 63rd Street apartment building and crashed into the backseat and trunk of a red Dodge Charger. The impact of the 490 foot drop was so great that Magill's Keds sneakers flew off his feet.

"My leg! My leg!" he reportedly screamed and was taken to a hospital where he is in critical condition.

"He had his hands up in the air, like flailing," witness Andrew Petrocelli told the Daily News. "Just when he's about to land, there was a boom and glass flying all over," he added. "The car saved his life. He landed in there like a stunt man. It was amazing."

Magill's story may sound like one in a million but it's not especially surprising if you delve into the obscure world of free falling. It turns out that people tumble from great heights all the time and survive... and their chances of survival actually improve if they're drunk, on drugs, suicidal or crazy, according to top experts in the field.

Dr. Richard Snyder knows more than anyone in the world about free falling and "human impact tolerances," the technical phrase for how much the body can withstand. Over a fifty-year career, he has researched more than thirty-three thousand falls of every height and variety.

As a crash injury expert at the FAA in 1963, Snyder published a classic study of 137 falls, including a sixty-nine year-old woman who toppled from a tree while chasing her pet parakeet and an eloper who tumbled from a tall ladder. Snyder's subjects ranged in age from eighteen months to ninety-one years old. Humans, he concluded, are able to survive impact forces "considerably greater than those previously believed tolerable."

Snyder retired to Tucson, Arizona, after careers in government, academia, and the private sector. When I interviewed him for my book The Survivors Club, he recalled gathering information on more than a thousand people who survived falls greater than a thousand feet -- more than twice the distance that Magill plunged on Tuesday.

"It isn't that unusual," he says matter-of-factly. It all depends on how you fall, where you land, and your own physical condition. Snyder's early research found that "psychotic patients," like suicidal people, may be able to withstand impact forces better than "normal" individuals. A crazy person who wants to leap from a building, he theorized, may be looser on the way down. "The act of jumping may thus be a release for him," he writes, "and unlike most of us, this individual may enjoy the jump. As a result he may be physically relaxed at the time of impact, which appears to be, in itself an important criterion for survival of free-fall." Snyder discovered that people who are drunk also "appear to have a disproportionate survival rate among free-falls of extreme distances" because they were "abnormally relaxed."

Snyder rattles off stories of free fallers the way some tell tales of great sports legends. He recalls that one man lived for ten hours after falling thirty-nine thousand feet when a Boeing 707 exploded. Had the victim received proper medical attention, he would have survived. A Russian pilot fell twenty-eight thousand feet and landed in deep snow on the side of a mountain, where he was rescued by Cossack horsemen. Snyder wrote a whole paper on snow as an "impact attenuator." He says if you happen to fall a great distance, pray that you land in what's known as corn snow, which has large, round crystals from repeated thawing and freezing.

Snyder is proud of his career exploring impact forces. His work has helped designers make safety improvements in planes and cars that protect you every day. But he recognizes there's much more work to do. On the one hand, Thomas Magill can fall 39 stories and survive. "On the other hand," he says, "you can trip and fall going out the door and die." He chuckles. "It's kind of an ironical business."

Sen. Ted Cruz: NOBODY should be afraid of Trump's Supreme Court justice pick

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to weigh in on President Donald Trump's potential Supreme Court nominees and talk about his timely new book, "One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History."

Sen. Cruz argued that, while Congressional Democrats are outraged over President Trump's chance at a third court appointment, no one on either side should be afraid of a Supreme Court justice being appointed if it's done according to the founding documents. That's why it's crucial that the GOP fills the vacant seat with a true constitutionalist.

Watch the video below to hear the conversation:

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Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to talk about why he believes President Donald Trump will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death.

Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider and vote on the nominee, also weighed in on another Supreme Court contender: Judge Barbara Lagoa. Lee said he would not be comfortable confirming Lagoa without learning more about her history as it pertains to upholding the U.S. Constitution.

Watch the video below to hear the conversation:

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This week on the Glenn Beck Podcast, Glenn spoke with Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias about his new book, "One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger."

Matthew and Glenn agree that, while conservatives and liberals may disagree on a lot, we're not as far apart as some make it seem. If we truly want America to continue doing great things, we must spend less time fighting amongst ourselves.

Watch a clip from the full interview with Matthew Yglesias below:


Find the full podcast on Glenn's YouTube channel or on Blaze Media's podcast network.

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'A convenient boogeyman for misinformation artists': Why is the New York Times defending George Soros?

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On the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday, Glenn discussed the details of a recent New York Times article that claims left-wing billionaire financier George Soros "has become a convenient boogeyman for misinformation artists who have falsely claimed that he funds spontaneous Black Lives Matter protests as well as antifa, the decentralized and largely online, far-left activist network that opposes President Trump."

The Times article followed last week's bizarre Fox News segment in which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared to be censored for criticizing Soros (read more here). The article also labeled Glenn a "conspiracy theorist" for his tweet supporting Gingrich.

Watch the video clip below for details:


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