Every career has its stressful moments — strict deadlines, pushy clients, technical difficulties. But even with all these challenges, your average employee never expects to face a life-or-death situation on the clock. That possibility never gets listed in job descriptions.
In 2018, a seasoned truck driver set out on what was supposed to be a routine delivery, but fate had other ideas. He soon found himself fighting for his life, and yet he still refused to compromise his precious cargo — even though doing so could’ve easily saved his life.
Despite the freezing weather, beads of sweat rolled down Jacob Cartwright’s face. He struggled to keep the steering wheel of his tractor-trailer steady as he barreled down an icy road. Peering at the blurry signs ahead, he couldn’t help but wonder how he ended up in this situation.
It started a few months earlier. Jacob was just a decent guy in need of a job. He was working as a cross-country trucker, but the endless routes wore him out and pulled him away from his wife and two kids. He needed a change.
Jacob came across a more local driving job with Little Trees Transportation. Roy Henry, the owner, admired Jacob’s familial priorities and brought him aboard. The new hire soon proved himself as one of the most dependable employees out there.
So nobody in the company expected any trouble when they asked Jacob to drive across Oregon, from Portland to the small town of Nyssa. His truck was filled to the brim with boxes, though Jacob found it curious that they were so light.
It was while transporting these boxes that he fought to keep his truck straight, struggling on those icy roads. He’d heard too many stories about reckless drivers beforehand. His pulse started racing as he realized he made a grave mistake.
Glancing at the GPS, Jacob saw he plunked in the wrong address. He quickly entered the right one, which required him to get off the highway and take a detour on a service road. From there, he hurtled into the windiest road he’d ever seen.
Though Jacob devoted his full concentration to his driving, the asphalt was slick and the dense pine trees let little light through. An impossibly tight turn appeared just ahead of him. He slammed the breaks.
Facebook / Jacob Cartwright
He lost all control of his truck, but luckily, the vehicle stayed upright. Jacob took a deep breath as it came to a halt. Revving the engine, the driver heard a terrible sound. He hopped outside and assessed the situation. His tires were hopelessly stuck.
The first thought to cross Jacob’s mind was that he’d be late for the delivery — a rare occurrence for him. He tried to call his supervisor but never got through. There was no cell service out there. Or anything out there.
Jacob waited around for rescue, but hours passed him by. Thirst began to creep up on him, so he melted some snow and drank it. He was more dehydrated than he realized, but he needed more than just water.
While the truck wouldn’t budge, Jacob could still open the trailer. He decided to check on the status of the cargo. The driver licked his lips as he peeled back the cardboard lid of a box.
His eyes scanned over his cargo. Potato chips, a lifetime supply, filled his tractor-trailer. Jacob’s stomach rumbled, though a little voice in his head disagreed with his gut.
Roy trusted him to deliver the product intact, Jacob remembered. Eating any of it —even just a few stray crumbs — would go down as a complete betrayal of his duties. He shut the trailer door.
The hard truth was becoming clearer: nobody was coming to rescue Jacob. He would have to find his own way to safety. The driver locked up his truck — though there didn’t seem to be many thieves in the area — and trudged into the harsh winter.
Charting a rough course for home, Jacob trudged through the knee-deep snow. He melted more water and slept under piles of pine needles. But days later, he still had yet to reappear in civilization.
Understandably, Jacob’s wife Devon was torn up about his absence. He’d never gone AWOL before, yet nobody had seen any sign of him for four days! She thought she was hallucinating when she returned home from work and saw a familiar face on the sofa.
Facebook / Jacob Cartwright
Jacob made it home — and was changing his shoes like nothing ever happened. Of course, Devon insisted on bringing him to a hospital after hearing about everything he went through. Hopefully, there wouldn’t be any long-term effects.
After Roy heard the good news, he came to visit Jacob. Between the driver’s survival skills and refusal to dip into another person’s chip supply, his boss was pretty impressed.
Then again, nobody could be too surprised given the tattoo on Jacob’s forearm that read, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” When Devon said she feared her husband was dead, he replied, “You ain’t getting rid of me that easily!”
Jacob returned home and immediately flopped onto the bed with one of his kids wrapped in his arms. Sleep came easily, as Jacob knew he handled a dangerous situation as a man of honor. Still, he knew he was lucky that he was able to escape the woods on his own.
Facebook / Jacob Wright
Angela Hernandez didn’t have that luxury. One weekend in July of 2018, the Oregon resident decided it would be nice to visit her family in Southern California. It was almost the last choice she ever made.
It was a beautiful day when she set out from Portland in her white Jeep Patriot. Angela had only the hundreds and hundreds of miles of highway ahead to keep her company.
Facebook / Angela Hernandez
It was a long drive, but at least the trip would offer some breathtaking views along the way. Angela could put her camera to good use!
Facebook / Angela Hernandez
The most beautiful — and dangerous — part of the drive came when Angela passed through the Big Sur. The highway ran right along the California coast, with the Pacific Ocean only a cliffside away.
Angela only remembered fragments of what happened next. The only thing that’s clear was that a small animal darted out into the middle of the winding road. She swerved to avoid it.
She lost consciousness as her car tore through the guardrail and plummeted 250 feet to the ocean below. It began to sink. Could anyone survive such a crash?
When Angela awoke, water already filled up her vehicle up to her knees, and its level was rising. She grabbed a multi-tool she kept inside, smashed through the side window, and crawled out to the beach.
Bloody and battered, she rolled over on the shore. She sustained injuries all over her body, and her shoes were missing. Her feet ached as she clambered up the rocks to escape the incoming tide and get some rest.
Once Angela got her bearings, she saw that there was no way back up to the highway, or even a clear path along the beach. She needed to signal for help, but first, she had more pressing needs.
Incredible thirst overtook her, so Angela rummaged through her washed-up car for supplies. She came across a black hose that had fallen out and figured it could be useful.
Flickr / DSherland
She then found a mossy rock on the cliffside that dropped a bead of water every couple seconds. Angela attached one end of the hose to the rock and drank.
Angela spent hours trying to flag down a car from the road above, but she was too far down and the cars were going too fast. Days passed by…
Of course, police were searching for Angela after her family reported that she never showed up. But with so much ground to cover along the California coast it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The week after the crash, Chad and Chelsea Moore were hiking along the coast when they noticed something strange at the base of the cliff. It appeared to be a wrecked car. They found their way down to the beach to investigate.
Chad and Chelsea were busy gathering items that must have come from the car when they heard a cry for help. They ran over to some nearby rocks where they found Angela. Though weak, she was still alive.
Cell service wasn’t great in the Big Sur, but Chad and Chelsea were, fortunately, able to reach emergency services. They stayed with her and did what they could until a medical team arrived.
After first responders airlifted Angela to a nearby hospital, they worked to haul the debris up the cliff by crane. Although the first cable snapped, they managed to lift the Jeep back up.
All told, Angela endured a brain hemorrhage, four broken ribs, a shattered collarbone, a collapsed lung, and ruptured blood vessels in both eyes. Lucky for her, she made a full recovery.
Angela now feels like she has a new lease on life, and she’s held on to various items from her car to remind herself how blessed she is. Not many other people would have survived the crash, let alone lasted on the beach for a week after.
Facebook / Angela Hernandez
Angela says that the incident convinced her that there is indeed a bigger purpose in her life. She makes sure to savor every moment and spend as much time possible with the ones she loves.