Saturday, May 15, 2010

Frano Selak, the most blessed man

Frano Selak, a music teacher and a pensioner now, is mostly dubbed as the world's luckiest man by many websites, but some others consider him as the unluckiest! How can you describe him: the luckiest or the unluckiest? It is like the old proverb about the glass that is half empty! Quite philosophical, as you cannot blame one who is disappointed that the glass is half-empty, or the one who is happy that it is half-full!

But Frano Selak says, “I never thought I was lucky to survive all my brushes with death… I always think I was unlucky to have been in them in the first place but you can't tell people what they don't want to believe." Perhaps this can be the most appropriate assessment of the situation, as it comes from the same man who went through the harrowing experiences and escaped from situations of instant death seven times in his life, and survived every time, unscathed, to tell his story!

Frano Selak is a resident of Petrinja, which is south of Zagreb in the centre of Croatia. He is 81 years old now. He is married five times and says about his fifth marriage, "I guess all the earlier marriages were disasters too."

Five years ago he won one of the biggest lotteries in the world, worth £600,000, and he has now decided to give away his lottery fortune, because, now he does not think money alone can bring in happiness.

Selak said he has never been happier, adding about his wife, “All I need at my age is my Katarina. Money would not change anything… When she arrived I knew then that I really did have a charmed, blessed life."

As he has decided to live a frugal life, the world's luckiest man Frano Selak, has sold his luxury home on a private island, given away all his fortune to family and friends, and moved back to his modest home in Petrinja. He only kept a very small last bit of his winnings for a hip replacement operation so that he can enjoy life with his wife, and also ‘he could build a shrine to the Virgin Mary to give thanks for his luck’.

Selak’s amazing escapes are as follows:

In 1962, Selak was travelling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik by train. The train derailed and plunged into an icy river killing 17 people. But he miraculously managed to make it to the riverbank, though after breaking his arm, bruises and suffering from hypothermia and shock. It was his first escape from death.

Hardly a year passed when in 1963 he had his first flight, and the only one in his life, when a door of the plane was thrown open killing 19 people. But Selak was lucky to escape death a second time, because he was thrown clear of the crash and he landed on a haystack.

His third encounter with death was in 1966. He was travelling in a bus that skidded into a river, drowning four people. But Selak swam to safety and suffered only some cuts and bruises on his body.

In 1970 Frano Selak was driving in his car along a motorway when his fourth accident happened. Unexpectedly his car caught fire and he fled out of it just seconds before his car’s fuel tank exploded.

Three years later, in 1973, a faulty fuel pump of his car spewed petrol over the hot engine and blew flames through the air vents. He escaped it, though most of his hair was lost to fire.

His sixth accident was a bit later, in 1995 when Frano Selak was knocked down by a bus in Zagreb. As you may expect him to do by now, he walked away with only minor injuries.

In 1996 Selak was driving in his Skoda in a mountainous route and just when he negotiated a corner turning to see a truck of the UN coming straight for him. His Skoda careered through a crash barrier and over a 300-feet precipice. He decided to leap clear in the last seconds and sat on a tree from where he saw his car hit the bottom and explode in flames.

About his many brushes with death Frano Selak said, "I never thought I was lucky to survive my brushes with death; I thought I was unlucky to be in them."

Now, don’t you think it is unusual or miraculous for a man to survive death so many times, and then be lucky to win one of the biggest lotteries, a fortune of £600,000? I think it is one of those rare ‘believe it or not’ stories, just miracles. And I think he is not only the luckiest, but ‘the most blessed man’. Watch him in the video report on Frano Selak in this blog.

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