Everyone heard the story of a kid trapped under a car and then his mom lifts the car and saves the day. Some use this story to illustrate the power of adrenaline, some to point out that “cars are too heavy to be lifted by a woman using only one hand, so it’s something to do with supernatural.” The problem is that this story was told too many times without any hard facts. What kind of car was it? A toy car like Yugo or something like Cadillac Escalade? Did she really lift it with one hand only? And the queen of the questions – did it really happen or is it just another urban myth?
It really happened. Here is the hard data:
It was the Good Friday, April 9 1982 in Lawrenceville, Georgia and Anthony Vincent Cavallo II, a teenager at that time, has jacked up his 1964 Chevy Impala (same model as the one on the photo above) in the driveway to work on its suspension. After he removed the rear suspension spring (not the tire as some sources claimed), the jack slipped away leaving Anthony clamped between the top of the rear wheel and the top of the fender of a 3,340 – 3,895 pound car (Chevy Impala weigth data taken from here).
His mother Angela, who described herself as “5-foot-8, large framed and strong” was in the kitchen when a neighbor kid ran in and told that Anthony had an accident. She ran out and lifted the corner of the car just a few inches so it doesn’t keep pressing the passed-out Anthony while the kid went to get help. She estimates that she held the corner of the car for about 5 minutes until the help came and pulled Anthony out. Anthony fully recovered, and today he runs five Goodyear tire stores.
Personally, I ‘ve heard versions of this story where it was a 3-year old kid who was under a pick-up truck and mother lifted the truck with one hand, pulling the kid out with the other. As we see, it was all much more earthly and adrenaline seems to be a reasonable explanation (even though adrenaline rush lasting 5 minutes is between debatable and impossible). In each case this seems to fall under the “what people can do in extreme situations” kind of story.
There are other cases of people doing remarkable things when they or their children are in danger.
Mom: 1 – Eight Foot Polar Bear: 0
Lydia Angyiou, age 41, described as “tiny” by the newspapers was just outside the Youth Center in Ivujivik, Canada. It was February 2006. Winter as usual up there in the far North. Her 7 year old boy was playing hockey with two of his friends, while she was looking after her two other, younger children. In one moment a polar bear walked in eying the boys. Without thinking twice, she ran towards the bear to protect her kid. Lydia and bear exchanged a few kicks and swats and were wrestling on the ground when Siqualuk Ainalik (33) heard the commotion and came out with a .303 caliber rifle. Seeing Lydia fighting the bear, he fired 3 warning shots into the air. The bear, clearly not getting the message yet, looked at Siqualuk and headed towards him. Now that Siqualuk had a clear line of fire, he shot the bear 4 times.
Capt. Larry Hubert of the Kativik Regional Police Force (on the photo above with the dead bear) has known Lydia Angyiou for about 15 years. He jokingly describes her as “about 5-foot-nothing and 90 pounds on a wet day” and is still amazed that she fought a 700 pound bear.
Conclusion – some things sound amazing but they are not supernatural. It often happens that in numerous re-telling of the story facts get unintentionally distorted and then we end up judging the situation from the wrong data. I have witnissed some things that science can’t explain (hence this site), but the above two are not in that category. They were caused by a perfectly worldly natural force called “moms in panic”.