Life is going well for music teacher Frane Selak, 74, from the central Croatian town of Petrinja. Selak recently won about $1 million with the first lottery ticket he had bought for 40 years. With the money, he bought a new house, car and speedboat, and married his girlfriend.
Selak is lucky to be alive. A few years ago, he was turning a corner in his car in the mountains, when he saw a truck coming straight towards him. His car swerved off the road through the forest for 100 metres, ploughed into a tree and exploded. Fortunately, Selak had jumped out.
But this was not the first of his lucky escapes. Back in 1962, Selak was travelling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik when the train he was in came off the rails and fell into an icy river. Rescue workers found seventeen corpses in the river, but Selak had swum to safety only shock, bruises and a broken arm.
Then, a year later, he was involved in a plane crash in which nineteen people died. But before the crash, Selak had jumped out of the plane and landed in a haystack. Again, the only injuries were cuts and scratches and the usual shock.
His next disaster was a bus accident when four people died. The bus left the road and Selak again found himself in a river. But he was becoming something of an expert at this sort of situation and swam to safety. By this time, said Selak, his friends had stopped visiting him.
Three years later, he lost most of his hair and suffered burns when his car caught fire at a petrol station. The petrol pump was old and had sprayed petrol all over the hot engine of his car. Then, in 1995, he was in hospital again. Another bus had knocked him over.
Selak is philosophical about his fortune. “I’m going to enjoy my life now – I feel like I have been reborn. I know God was watching over me all those years,” he said.