Against All Odds

A Fiery Plane Crash, A Ferry Disaster

48 Hours profiles ordinary people who have faced extraordinary tests of survival.

Among the people you'll meet:

Four people who survived a jumbo jet crash in Taiwan in 2000. They tell how they lived a terrible crash that killed almost half of the passengers when the jet crashed into some construction equipment during a storm.

John Diaz: A producer who has made more than 1,000 music videos, Diaz was on the plane when it crashed. "Right next to my feet the wall and the floor started to split, and then the next thing I know there's fire shooting right up next to my leg and that's when I undid my belt and stood up and screamed 'Move! Everybody move!'"

Expert Survival Tips
Get advice on how to survive a plane crash or stop a car whose brakes are broken.
John Courtney and his wife, Deborah Brosnan, scientists traveling from a coral reef conference in Bali back to the U.S. By chance, the couple changed seats just before takeoff. If they hadn't, they would have died. They tell how they lived through the fireball that swept through the cabin after the jet crashed into some construction equipment. Once they exited the plane, they led a group of survivors to safety. "You wonder if it really comes to a difficult situation, "Will you panic, will you run away, will you stop and help? What will you do when your life is on the line," says Courtney. "We were there so we got tested. We came through. Am I proud of myself? Yeah."

John Wiggins, a salesman whose product is, ironically, airplane interiors. Although he survived, the experience affected him, and he says he doesn't know if he will be able to fly anytime soon.

Also on the show: Tillie Tooter, an 84-year-old Floridian who survived more than three days trapped in her car, which had crashed off a highway into a swamp. "Now everybody knows that in Florida, you've got terrifying alligators, you've got snakes, you've got all kinds of critters," she says. "I was afraid to fall asleep because I felt that if anything crawled in, I could at least kick it away with my feet. I was up the entire time."

And meet four survivors of a Greek ferry accident in September, 2000:

Joanne Calabrese and Roger Mercaldi, an American couple on vacation in Greece. They were on a ferry, going to an island in the Aegean, when the boat began listing. Within an hour it had sunk.

"I thought we were gonna die, I really did," says Heidi Hart, another American who was on the boat, with her friend Christine Shannon. "I thought we were gonna be in the water and we were gonna die. But I thought, I will not go down without fighting for my life."

(c) MMII, Viacom Internet Services Inc., All Rights Reserved