12 People Who Were Buried Alive… and Somehow Survived

Fair warning: even if you’re not claustrophobic or taphophobic, these buried alive stories will have you squirming. Mistaken for dead, many people have been entombed prematurely, only to awaken to a horrifying reality. There are many tales of people being accidentally buried alive who are discovered all too late, but this list is concerned with people who were buried alive and lived to tell the tale—in some cases, just barely.

If you’re still reading, you’re ready to delve into some bizarre buried alive stories. Scroll at your own risk…

French Teenager Survives Being Buried for Three Days

19-year-old Angelo Hays was believed to have died in a motorcycle accident in 1937 in France. Hays was thrown from the bike into a brick wall, head first. After a suspicious insurance agent came to inquire about the policy Hays’s father had taken out on his son, the teenager was exhumed two days after his burial. He was still alive, having slipped into a coma. As his body required less oxygen in this state, Hays managed to survive the ordeal.  

After rehabilitation, Hays lived to tell the tale of his live burial. He became a celebrity throughout France, and also invented a security coffin complete with a radio transmitter, food locker, library, and chemical toilet, just in case anyone found themselves in his same predicament.

Monsters Bury Six Year-old Alive in a Field
In 2014 in northern India, a couple told a little girl that her parents wanted them to accompany her to a fair. They led her to a large sugar cane field, where the female abductor strangled the girl and buried her alive. Workers in the field spotted the couple and rushed to uncover the child. She was taken to the hospital and recovered, later identifying her neighbors as the suspects.
Dazed Man Wakes up in Metal Box in Morgue

In 1993, Sipho William Mdletshe was in a terrible car crash, along with his fiancée. His injuries were so severe, he appeared to be dead. He was taken to the Johannesburg mortuary where he was put in a metal box, awaiting burial. He was unconscious for two days and nights before waking up inside the box. His screams alerted workers, and he was released.

When he tried to return to his fiancée, however, she wasn’t having it. She thought he was a zombie come back to haunt her, which is kind of a misunderstanding of how zombies work, but scary nevertheless.

90 Minutes in a Body Bag in Albany
In 1994, Mildred Clarke was 86 when she was found on her living room floor with no detectable heartbeat. She came to after 90 minutes inside a body bag at the morgue, giving staff the shock of their lives. She lived a week longer before actually dying. 
Essie Dunbar Rises at Her Own Funeral
Essie Dunbar passed away at the age of 30 in 1915 in South Carolina after an epileptic attack. Or so everyone thought. Her funeral was delayed for a few days in order for her sister, who lived in another town, to attend the services. Dunbar’s sister was late on the actual day of the funeral and the minister began the service anyway. She arrived just after Dunbar was interred and demanded to see her sister one last time. When the coffin was opened, Essie Dunbar sat up and smiled. Everyone freaked out and ran. Dunbar had to walk to town and convince everyone that she was not a zombie. She lived on for another 47 years, ultimately dying in 1962 at the age of 77.
Natalya Pasternak Buried Alive by a Bear
In 2015, Natalya Pasternak and a friend were walking in the woods of Siberia when they were attacked by a bear. She and her friend fought back, but the huge bear got the best of Pasternak, mauling her and knocking her unconscious. Her friend went for help and flagged down police. The bear, thinking she was dead, buried Pasternak with leaves and dirt. He apparently planned to eat her later. The bear was killed and Pasternak went through a long recovery. The attack gave her a new lease on life. She captioned a pic on social media, “How beautiful life is.” 
Chinese Infant Survived Being Buried Alive for Eight Days
The baby boy in question was born with a cleft palate in 2015. As the young couple was not prepared for a child with medical needs, they “panicked,” put the baby in a cardboard box, and buried him in a shallow grave in a cemetery in Tian Dong. While picking herbs near the cemetery, a woman discovered the baby from his cries beneath the earth. Initially, she believed the cries were from a ghost. She notified the police and they dug up the baby. He survived because the box allowed in oxygen and rainwater. The parents initially claimed that his grandparents put a hit out on the baby, but no one bought the story.
Baby Buried under Rubble on Compton Bike Trail
In 2015, two women discovered a two-day old infant girl buried under a pile of asphalt along a bike trail. The baby was wrapped in a hospital blanket. The mother was found and arrested for attempted murder and child endangerment. The infant recovered from the ordeal.  
Magician Nearly Dies When Stunt Goes Wrong
British magician Antony Britton was hoping to pull off an amazing feat like the great Harry Houdini, but instead nearly died after being buried alive. Britton wore handcuffs and was buried under loose dirt, with the intent of freeing himself from the six-foot grave. Although he spent 14 months preparing for the stunt, Britton wasn’t prepared for the actual weight of the dirt, nor the fact that his arm would become trapped. As the time ticked by, his crew became alarmed and quickly unearthed the magician.

“I almost died,” he said. “I was just seconds away from death. It was scary. The pressure of the soil was crushing around me. Even when I found an air pocket, when I exhaled the soil around me was crushing me even more. I could feel myself losing consciousness and there was nothing I could do about it. I was pretty much dying,” Britton said. 

Woman Visits Family Tomb, Finds Man Buried Alive
A woman was visiting the family plot in 2013 in a small town in Brazil when she saw a man clawing his wayout of a grave. His head and hands were free but he was struggling to pull himself out. The woman brought rescue workers to free the man, who turned out to be an employee at city hall. The man has no memory of being buried alive, though authorities said he was badly beaten before being buried. The theory is, the man’s attackers, believing him to be dead, buried him in the cemetery to expose of his body.
The Legend of Tom Guerin, Three Year-Old Accidentally Buried Alive
There were many sick and dying among the Irish during the potato famine of 1845-1852. Tom Guerin was mistaken for dead and was buried in a mass grave. There are varying reports of what actually happened to Guerin, but one account states that when the gravedigger hit his legs with a spade, the boy cried out. Although the boy survived, he was handicapped for life. Guerin struggled financially as an adult, but was a cheerful person and something of a poet. He even wrote a poem to the Irish government asking for new shoes.
Woman Prematurely Buried, Dug up, Dies the next Day
A young woman, Philomele Jonetre, was taken ill with cholera in 1867. She was believed to have died, was given her last rites, and buried six hours later. As the gravediggers were finishing up, they heard faint knocking from inside. They quickly dug her up and could see that Jonetre was still alive. She stayed alive for a day, but passed away either due to her illness or the damage caused by being buried alive. Her ordeal inspired this poem