These photographers captured the worst moments of these people’s lives, just as they were happening. Car crashes and other disasters are extremely terrifying. These photographs, taken at the very moment they occur, show them in their full spectacle.
This photo of Nigel Corner in midair was taken by Jeff Bloxam during the Goodwood Revival in 1998. Corner was extremely lucky to survive, though he was definitely not unscathed. Corner experienced multiple injuries from being flung into the air at high speed. He broke twenty bones, punctured both of his lungs and broke his back.
While paramedics were attending him, he was reportedly more concerned with the fate of his car and how much it would cost to repair than his own health.
Think this is as extreme as crash photos can be? Take a look at some of the pics in this article.
The MV Rena Sinks
This is the MV Rena, an enormous container ship owned by the Greek shipping company Costamare Inc. The Rena ran aground near Tauranga, New Zealand on October 5, 2011 through navigation mistakes. The collision resulted in the ship breaking in two and releasing a huge oil spill. The ship slowly sank below the waves – the stern section went under on January 10. By October 9, a huge oil slick spanning over three square miles had spread, doing significant damage to the area’s wildlife. The ship was carrying about 1,700 tons of heavy fuel oil, as well as 200 tons of marine diesel and eight shipping containers that contained hazardous waste. At least no crew were killed during the accident.
An F-16 Pilot Ejects
This photo was taken of a famous Thunderbird F-16C pilot ejecting right after takeoff during an airshow in 2003. The airshow was held at teh Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. The crash was caused by error on the part of the pilot, Captain Chris Stricklin. Stricklin incorrectly climbed to 1,670 feet in order to execute a “Split S” maneuver, far short of the necessary 2,500 feet. He plunged downwards to execute the maneuver and then realized his mistake. He aimed the jet away from the crowd and then ejected when the plane was only 140 feet above the ground, less than one second before impact. Thankfully, he suffered no significant injuries and none of the onlookers did, either. The 20 million dollar jet was totaled.
Felipe Massa Upside Down
This photo shows Felipe Massa, a Brazilian driver, in the midst of his horrific crash at the German Grand Prix in 2014. Massa collided with Kevin Magnussen going into the race’s first bend. Massa’s car was forced off the track and flipped onto its head, skidding to a long halt. Massa was able to exit the car and walk away from the wreck.
Paul Steiner’s Glider Trick
This photo shows a promotional stunt done for Red Bull by Paul Steiner. Steiner climbed out of the cockpit of his glider, walked down the wing, grabbed its edge, and then flipped down to drop onto the wing of another glider flying beneath him. He then parachuted to the ground. It was an impressive stunt, one of many in his career.
If you’re going to sink an airboat, don’t sink it in a swamp populated with alligators. Of course, those are pretty much the only places people drive airboats. This sightseeing trip got a whole lot more interesting real quick. This must have been a very frightening affair for all parties involved, perhaps even the alligators.
This is either an amazing driver or that car’s about to tip over onto its side. We’re guessing it’s the latter. Hopefully he was okay. If you have to wipe out a car, there are worse places to do it than on a forgiving layer of water. Also, at least they’re wiping out in high patriotic style.
Mark Webber Goes Airborn
Mark Webber, an Australian driver, found himself airborne in his Mercedes CLR at the 1999 Le Mans race. At its highest, the tail of the CLR was thirty feet in the air. Disturbingly, the car went nose-up after making the race’s final crest for no apparent reason other than faulty design.
Stan Fox Indy 500 Crash
Stan Fox, driving for Ron Hemelgarn at the 1995 Indianapolis 500, had one of the worst crashes in Indy history, pictured above. He spun out on the first turn of the race, colliding with Eddie Cheever, Jr’s car and hitting the outside wall. Fox suffered career-terminating injuries but survived.
Hot Air Balloon Accident
This photo captures the moment a hot air balloon in Carterton, New Zealand hit a power line during its landing. The balloon caught fire and crash landed. The tragedy was chalked up to pilot error. It was a terrible event, remembered as one of the worst accidents in the history of hot air ballooning. The stuff of nightmares.
James Dean’s Porsche
This is what was left of the 550 Spyder James Dean was driving when he passed away in 1955. Dean was driving the car from Los Angeles to Salinas, California to participate in a race. Dean, a famous actor, was also cultivating a career as a race driver. Both careers were, obviously, cut short.
Airline Collision Over San Diego
This is Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182, which hit a private Cessna above San Diego one morning in 1978. It was, at the time, the deadliest crash in the history of American aviation. The plane crash landed in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. The silver lining was that the airline industry improved its safety standards as a direct result of the tragedy.
This shot, taken in 2014, shows Kamui Kobayashi wiping out after hitting Felipe Massa during the opening race of the Formula 1 season at the Australian Grand Prix. Thankfully, both of them survived. Kobayashi is known for driving in an aggressive, risk-taking style that sometimes does not pay off.
3 Lambo Pileup
These three Lamborghinis crashed into each other at seventy miles an hour, destroying them. They were on their way from Singapore to a Malaysian car show in Kuala Lumpur. The combined value of the cars was a bit under a million dollars. Three times, in this particular case, was not the charm.
This Ferrari 360 Spider met an untimely, watery end after its owner parked next to a harbor to eat at a restaurant just a few feet away. The owner watched, helplessly, as a truck backed into the car and sent it diving nose-first into the water. At least nobody was hurt, saving for the owner’s bank account.
Jet Ski Action
This is a compromising position for any jet skiier to find themselves in. The look on his face isn’t even one of horror. Maybe he does this all the time. In pretty much no sport do you want to find yourself facing downwards at almost ninety degrees with hundreds of pounds of metal directly above you. Even if you’re on the water.
Last Known Photo Of Paul Walker
This is the last known photo of Paul Walker, star of the Fast and the Furious movies. He is remembered fondly, to say the least. Walker was on his way home from a charity event benefiting the victims of Typhoon Haivan, with Roger Rodas behind the wheel. They got into a bad wreck that neither of them walked away from. Walker’s death is still mourned.
X Games Wreck
This photo was taken during a practice run for the RallyCross section of the X Games in 2012. The trickiest spot in the course was a double-ramped open jump that wrecked this Ford Fiesta, driven by Finn Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen. Thankfully, he was unharmed, and the crash definitely served as a cautionary example to the other drivers.
Another Kobayashi Crash
Another crash from Kamui Kobayashi. This one took place in 2011. He was attempting to take the “Singapore Sling,” a particularly nasty corner. He hit the wall and this photo was the result. Kobayashi’s style appears to be getting into spectacular wrecks. He is still racing today. He’s not just considered a madman, he’s a highly esteemed driver.
A Bad Crash
This photo was taken at the moment a man was hurled from the passenger seat of a car. The photo was taken in the UK sometime in the 1920’s. Back then, safety precautions were nowhere near as thoroughgoing as they are today. This car probably (clearly) did not even have seat belts.
Biorgio Bartocci Crashes
Biorgio Bartocci crashed his Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 during the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo. Bartocci managed to escape the wreck, but just barely. Track crew did not handle the crash well, attempting to put the fire out instead of helping Bartocci escape it. Thankfully, he survived.
Setting His Jet Ski Free
This heartbreaking photo shows the moment this man releases his jet ski back into the wild. Hopefully they will be reunited someday. And hopefully the jet ski will be in one piece. This must be a terrifying moment, both out of concern for your own safety and realizing you might have to spend the rest of your day off fishing a dead jet ski out of a lake.
Frits Kroymans, a Ferrari importer from the Netherlands, at a 2004 Corse Clienti race at Laguna Seca in 2004. The crash thankfully didn’t occur at very high speed. The Ferrari shattered in a very strange way, leaving Kroymans partially exposed. Amazingly, Kroymans was totally unhurt in the incident, despite being trapped inside the broken shell of his car with his legs exposed.
Cliff Allison’s Crash
Pictured is Cliff Allison, who crashed his Ferrari in 1960 while practicing for the Monaco Grand Prix. Allison hit a barrier made of straw, sending him careening over the steering wheel. He suffered multiple injuries but thankfully none of them were fatal. Auto racing has always been a dangerous sport, but it was made especially dangerous in the early days by unsophisticated safety measures.
Porsche Flips Into A Canal
This Porsche 964, driven by Harry Kleinjan and Bart den Hartog, suffered a spectacular crash in 2013. The car hit a concrete divider, flipped over it, and landed upside-down in a canal on the other side during the Hellendorn Rally in the Netherlands. Both men were uninjured. Kleinjan suffered a black eye and den Hartog was “just cold afterward.” Kleinjan said in an interview that they hit the wall due to a stuck throttle.
Kyle Busch Crashes
Kyle Busch is pictured here in the midst of a wreck at an Xfinity Series race in 2015. Busch hit an interior wall of the Daytona International Speedway, sending him skyward. Busch was injured, but not fatally. He broke his right leg and his foot and was rushed away in an ambulance soon after the crash.
The Costa Concordia Sinks
The Costa Concordia was a cruise ship operated by the Costa Crociere company, a subsidiary of Carnival. In 2012, it sank off the coast of Isola del Giglio, Italy after hitting a submerged rock. It only took a few hours for the ship to sink. It was declared a total loss. Thankfully, nobody onboard was injured during the accident.
Worst Cruise Ever
A relaxing cruise aboard the cruise ship Balmoral in 2009 turned out to be less than a vacation for the passengers, who had to endure ten days of extremely rough seas. Bad weather resulted in 50-foot swells and gale force winds that blew up to 60 mph. The seas were so rough that two people had to be evacuated to a hospital for broken bones.
If you thought self-driving cars were impressive, you’ll love cars that drive upside-down. Pretty sure this isn’t what it was designed for, though. This is every driver’s worst nightmare, whether they’re a professional race car driver or just someone commuting home from work. Hopefully the driver was not seriously injured in the moments following this pic.
A Co-Pilot Ejects
The co-pilot of this jet tests the ejection seat. It was likely a Zvezda K-36, an ejection seat made by NPP Zvezda. The seats were used in multiple jets, including the Su-27, Su-25, Su-57 and the MiG-29. Ejector seats have saved the lives of many pilots who would have otherwise suffered dismal ends inside their aircraft.
Hans Herrman Crash
Believe it or not, driver Hans Herrman was totally unharmed in this 1959 crash at the German Formula 1 Grand Prix. The race was held at the AVUS Race Track in West Berlin. Herrman’s brakes failed, which sent the car spinning in the air as Herrman himself slid across the track at high speed. It was a minor miracle that he didn’t lose his life.
Two Mustangs Collide
This picture shows two P-51 Mustangs colliding at the end of a runway at AirVenture Oshkosh. The plane in the foreground hit the plane in the background, clipping its tail with its propeller and flipping it over. The crash definitely dampened spirits at the annual aircraft gathering. It was a terrible tragedy.
Vaughn Gittin Jr Clips Opponent
Vaughn Gittin Jr (black car) is seen here bumping headlamps with a rival. This is usually not a very good tactic. This incident is relatively minor in comparison to a serious crash he endured during a drifting event in 2015, in which he slammed against a side wall at high speed while going around a curve.
Eat His Dust
This driver was making great time. Such great time that they were literally flying with a plume of dust billowing out behind their car. Looks like they made a wrong turn somewhere. The car belongs to the Marc VDS Racing Team, a racing organization founded by Marx van der Straten of Belgium.
This guy was sent careening into the air during a race in 1963. Another driver swerves to avoid the wreckage in the background. The driver was in a Brabham-Climax BT7, a Formula One race car that was used by the Brabham Racing Organisation, among others, between 1963 and 1966. It was beleaguered by multiple technical issues that hindered it in races.
Isle of Man Accident
This participant in the Isle of Man TT Race suffered a very unfortunate accident. He fell off his bike and was run over by a fellow biker. The Isle of Man TT Race is the single most dangerous motorcycle race in the world, at least of those that are on the books. It is so dangerous that it begs the question why it’s still sanctioned.
Alex Barros Crashes
Alex Barros is seen here in the midst of a bad wreck at the Australian Grand Prix in 2005. Thankfully, it did not end his life or his career. In fact, Barros ended up coming in sixth place that year. A pretty remarkable achievement, considering the fact that he was involved with the events depicted in this photograph.
McNish In A Bad Crash
This photo captures Allan McNish in midair during a Le Mans 24 Hours race. McNish was, incredibly, not badly injured in the crash. The accident occurred when McNish clipped Anthony Beltoise’s car, sending him careening across gravel before being flung into the air and spinning like a top before landing upside-down. McNish was dazed but unhurt.
A race photographer is in the right place at the right time, facing the wrong direction. His mistake made another photographer’s day. Hopefully the man in the background was okay. The photographer wears an expression of “What’s that strange sound behind me?” Must have been a heart-sinking moment when he turned around to realize what he’d missed.
This powerboat, driven by Joel Begin and Mike Fiore, suffered a catastrophic crash during the 2014 Shootout at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. The accident occurred mid-morning, early in the event. The boat was traveling at 179 mph when the accident struck, sending the boat flying fifty feet in the air and landing face-down.