I'm Completely Fascinated By "Third Man Syndrome," So Here Are 31 Stories From People Who Experienced It And Lived To Tell The Tale

These last few months, my personal Roman Empire has been a downright fascinating phenomenon called "third man syndrome." Also known as "third man effect," it usually occurs when people are in extreme distress, danger, or are about to have a near-death experience. People describe it as feeling like another person is present with them in these dire times, either giving them an unexpected sense of comfort, warning them of something awful that's about to happen, or literally (and, sometimes, physically) stepping in to intervene and protect them. Some people say it's like a disembodied voice or a gut feeling they can't shake. Others...well...they are literally visited by a "third person" in the flesh.

A single person is standing under a spotlight, casting a shadow. The image focuses on the silhouette and doesn't show detailed features
Malte Mueller / Getty Images/fStop

People have come up with all kinds of explanations for the feeling, from paranormal to spiritual to psychological. However, the term itself comes from the T.S. Eliot poem, The Waste Land, which was inspired by the real-life experience of Ernest Shackleton — an Irish explorer who went on a near-death expedition in Antarctica in 1916. After their ship got trapped in ice, he and two other members of his crew made a 36-hour-long trek over mountains and glaciers to a whaling station. During that time, each member of his three-man team — Ernest included — kept feeling like there was a fourth man alongside them. T.S. Elliot wrote this stanza inspired by that phenomenon:

In case you're confused on all the numbers going on here, the members of the real-life expedition felt a

In retrospect, I've heard tons of people tell stories that fit the bill of "third man syndrome," but I had no idea there was a name for the phenomena at the time. It seems like that's a pretty universal experience, too, because I asked BuzzFeed readers like you to share their own real-life "third man" experiences, and I got a truly overwhelming number of replies. So, I read through them all and pulled out the best, most jaw-dropping ones to share with you all. Without further ado, here are 31 real-life tales of people who actually experienced "third man syndrome":

1."I was walking alone at around 1 a.m. in a statistically safe neighborhood when I noticed a group of three men walking toward me. I was an 18-year-old girl without a weapon, and I felt absolute terror wash over me. I knew these men meant me harm. Suddenly, the men stopped walking, and one said, 'Sorry, guys. We didn't see you there.' I looked at them in shock, but they weren't looking at me. They were looking next to me. I knew then that I wasn't alone, even though I couldn't see my companions. The men could see them, and that's all I cared about. I heard two extra sets of heavy footsteps until I was about a block from my house. I thanked them and didn't ever go walking in the middle of the night again."

A woman wearing a coat walks under a metal structure in a dimly lit parking lot at night with buildings and parked cars in the background

—Skye, Washington, USA

Perinjo / Getty Images

2."Not me, but I was with my dad when he experienced this. I was about 6 years old. We were at a water park and my two younger brothers were at the kiddie pool with my mom while my dad and I were at the big water slide. We had gone a few times and were climbing up the stairs for another go when my dad suddenly stopped and looked over to where our towel was (which we only could have seen from that height). My dad later told me he heard a voice say, with increasing volume each time, 'LOOK FOR YOUR TOWEL.' When he finally complied, he saw that my brothers were with strangers and not my mom. He told me to meet him at the towel and ran off."

"Turns out, my mom — who has epilepsy — had a seizure in the kiddie pool and cut open her lip, thus requiring stitches. She was not coherent enough to give any information regarding my brothers or who to contact. My brother, who was 4 at the time, somehow led an older couple over from across the park to help. He led them to where our towel was, not knowing where my dad and I were at the time. My dad was able to rush back and attend to both my brothers and my mom."


3."I once accidentally dumped scalding coffee all over myself. I was wearing a tank top, so a lot of skin was exposed. I heard a woman say, 'Cold water!' and I reached for the glass of water next to me and dumped it on the burn immediately. I got up and went to the sink to put more cold water on. When I came back to the room, I said to my mom, 'That was quick thinking to tell me to pour the water on it!' She looked surprised and said, 'I was about to tell you, 'Good job on the quick thinking!'' She hadn’t said a word and didn’t even realize I had a full water glass next to me. I believe (because it sounded like my mom) it was her sister, my aunt, who had recently passed."

A hand pours coffee from a glass carafe into a white mug
Maria Korneeva / Getty Images

4."I was living in another country as the wife of an American attached to the military. We had a small plane at our disposal that we could use for trips to visit another country. I had been on it many times in the three years we lived there. As my husband was being reassigned back to the United States, we only had a few weeks left in our host country. The plane was making a trip to Argentina, so my husband added my name to the manifest as a treat for me, knowing how much I enjoyed visiting there. As he told me the news, smiling, I blurted out, 'No, not going. Take me off the trip.' I don't know where the thought came from; it just came out of my mouth."

"He was disappointed with my reaction but did as I asked. As it turns out, that plane was lost over the Andes 54 years ago and has yet to be found. To this day, I don’t know where the thought or reaction came from. Though, it is not the only time I voiced a thought that has saved someone’s life."


5."My cousin and I and our boyfriends traveled to the beach every year for vacation in our early twenties. Once, our car broke down in a very sketchy neighborhood and while waiting for AAA, an older gentleman was walking by and stopped to make sure we had help on the way. He talked and waited with us until the tow truck came. It did, and we were finally on our way again, so we started talking about the nice man. Strangely, we ALL had a different description of him, from the color of his suit, his hat, his hair color, race, shoes, etc! He looked different to all of us. We could all only agree that he smoked a corn cob pipe! Whoever he was, he will always be appreciated."

A person stands in the dark near a car with rear lights illuminated, facing the car, and is partially visible due to the car's lights


David Wall / Getty Images

6."I once was crossing the street while on my phone when I felt a hand pull me by the collar back onto the sidewalk. I watched as a car sped by in front of me that definitely would’ve hit me. I turned around to thank the person who saved me, and there was NO ON THERE."


7."When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I used to walk to school alone as my mom was a single mom and always working. Usually, during school days, there were a lot of families walking, so I was never scared. Occasionally, I had cheer practice on Saturdays, and this particular Saturday, I was walking alone with my heavy cheer bag. I was making my way up the hill about two blocks from my house, and I noticed a car following me. I looked over and saw a man driving slowly next to me, trying to get my attention. I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was in danger. I kept walking, looking to see where I could run, as there was no one around, and it was very early. There were no other cars nearby, either. I was trying to make escape plans in my head (there were a lot of driveways, so he could easily block me in if he wanted to) when out of nowhere, this van pulled up behind him and started honking."

"He signaled for them to go around, but they wouldn't. They just kept honking at him until he took off. Then, these two little older women rolled down their window and asked if I was OK. I said I was, and they told me to get in the car and that they would take me to school. I did not hesitate to get in — the feeling of danger was no longer there. They dropped me off in front of the school and told me to alert security about what happened. As I was about to turn around to thank them, the van was gone. There were a couple of cars ahead of where they dropped me off, so they couldn't have realistically driven away that suddenly.

I told security, and they called the police, who patrolled the school for a while. A couple of years later, I told my mom, and she said that it was my guardian angel who kept me from whatever that man wanted. Whenever I feel uneasy, I think about that time and know that someone is watching over me, so I trust what my instincts tell me."


8."I was 17 years old, driving by myself in the middle of winter. It was late at night and colder than 20º below zero. I was driving alongside a ravine and somehow went off the road, down into the ravine, and crashed into a tree. The impact was hard enough to bend the front of the car upward. I don’t remember the crash at all, and I was unconscious after it happened. In the middle of the night, someone somehow found me, dragged me through the snow up the bank, and got me in their car. They brought me to my mother‘s house and left. One of our siblings heard something at the door and found me sitting on the stoop, leaning against the door and covered in blood."

Courtney Cox looks surprised, holding a toothpick near her mouth. She is wearing glasses and a casual outfit

9."The house that my parents live in has a sort of steep staircase leading down into the basement. The handrail is on the left side going down and there's a wall on the right side. When I was a teenager and home alone, I slipped on a step and started falling down. I reached out both hands, my left to grab the handrail and my right to get some friction against the wall, but I couldn't find the railing. As I was falling, I felt a hand grab my right hand to stop me. It pulled me hard — I could feel the tug up through my armpit. My left hand had been unable to get a good grip on the handrail, so it was all this phantom hand that stopped me."

—Andrea, Indiana, USA

10."I've experienced this a couple of times. The first was when I was a kid at a school camp. We were staying in cabins by a huge lake. They had this lake activity called 'the rocket,' which was basically a rocket-shaped hunk of plastic with handles that they tied to the back of a boat. The boat would drag you around the lake while you tried to stay on the rocket. It was prone to flipping, but apparently that was part of the fun. Also, the person driving the boat would deliberately make sharp turns to make the rocket flip. Everyone wore lifejackets, so usually things were fine when it flipped over and the rider fell off. I was scared, and something was telling me not to try the rocket, like a nagging voice in my head. They assured me it was safe, though, so I ignored the voice in my head, assuming it was just fear."

Underwater view of hands reaching through bubbles and water

11."In 1984, my wife and I bought a brand new Volvo station wagon after reading consumer reports that said they were among the safest vehicles for families with small children. We were driving from Gilroy to Anaheim, CA, to attend an art show where I was selling my work. As we neared the Grapevine — part of the highway with steep slopes over the mountains — a voice in my head commanded, 'Pull over!' I shook it off and kept driving. Just as I got to the bottom of that stretch of the Grapevine, the car chugged to a stop. I cursed at the irony of a brand-new car malfunctioning. I coasted into a gas station and rolled the car to a halt. I’m no mechanic, but I popped the hood to see if I could spot any loose battery cables or a clogged fuel line. I saw nothing amiss. I closed the hood, got in the car, and discussed our options. We sat there for about 10 minutes and decided to turn on the ignition to see if the car would start. The motor turned right over!"

"I shrugged and let the car run on idle for a few minutes. Thinking it was OK, I resumed the climb up the Grapevine. After a few minutes, I heard ambulances, highway patrol cars, and fire trucks behind me. I pulled over to let them pass. When we finally reached the scene of the fatal multi-car wreck, we noticed that the mangled cars were those that were both in front and behind us before our car stalled out. Had I continued on with them, we most likely would have been killed along with the others in that gruesome, bloody scene. The voice in my head and the stalled Volvo saved our lives. If I ever hear a voice in my head again, I’m going to listen to it!"


12."I was traveling alone in Amsterdam as a young woman. I forgot to pack a phone charger adapter, so while I was wandering around looking for a restaurant I’d read about, I stepped into a little electronics shop to see if they had one. The way the shop owner looked at me kind of weirded me out, but I found my adapter and attempted to pay for it. He said he couldn’t get the credit card machine to work, and I started to get a bad feeling. He told me he needed to make a phone call to get the credit card machine to work, and started speaking very urgently in a language I didn't understand. It didn’t sound like a casual business call to the credit card machine company. Suddenly I heard a voice in my head, exactly the same as if someone has spoken to me out loud. It said, 'GET OUT OF HERE, NOW!' Terrified, I backed out of the store. The shopkeeper started yelling at me, and I headed off at a brisk pace. About a block later, I realized a van was following me."

A young girl with messy hair holds a spoon with green jello

13."In the mid-'90s, my best friend and I were driving down I-35 in Oklahoma City in her convertible with the top down. Being the dumb young girls we were, we were both fixated on a truck hauling a boat with about four hot guys inside the cab. When my friend looked ahead again, we were in a turn-only lane that made a sharp curve. Because we were going at a high speed, she wasn’t able to make the curve, and we drove down into a gulch. When the dirt and dust settled, we both said we felt like someone was there with us."

"I felt as if someone had their hands on my shoulders, keeping me in the car. This was before mandatory seat belt laws, and we weren’t wearing them. We both believe our guardian angels kept us safe that day. We still laugh about it today, wondering if the truck of guys saw it and what the other drivers thought."

—Amy, Oklahoma, USA

14."On my honeymoon, I went kayaking with my husband and his cousin. It was my first time kayaking, and I was pretty far behind the guys. Suddenly, (I don't remember how now) my kayak flipped over. Now, the guys had given me a safety lesson before we started, showing me how to pull the cord if I happened to flip so I could free myself. But I was too freaked out to think straight and didn't even attempt to pull the cord. I forgot it even existed. I knew by how far away they were that even if they looked back right then and realized I was in trouble, they wouldn't get to me in time. For a second, I wondered if I was going to die on my honeymoon and was bummed by what a dull way to die it was. At that moment, an unseen hand pulled the cord on the kayak, and I was freed from the seat."

A person in a kayak is navigating through fast-moving water, captured in motion blur. Their face is not visible. No recognizable individuals present

15."I was living in Hawaii while my entire family was in New York. They were all over the state and nowhere near each other. I was sleeping one night and had a dream at about 2 a.m. Hawaiian time. It was of my great uncle, who died a year previously. He was screaming at me to wake up and call my mom. I woke up in fear but shrugged it off as just being a dream. As I started to fall back asleep, I heard a voice — although I couldn't tell you if it was an actual voice or in my head — that told me to call my mom NOW. It was 7 a.m. on the East Coast, so — knowing my mom would be awake — I called her. She was surprised to hear from me so early, and I asked if everything was OK. She told me that she was visiting my great aunt (my deceased great uncle's wife of 60 years) but hadn't heard her get up yet. I told her that she should probably check on her. It turns out, my 90-year-old great-aunt got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and had fallen."

"The paramedics were amazed that she was still alive with the hypothermia, broken hip, gash along her face, and head injury she received at her age, and said that if my mom hadn't gone to check on her when she did, my great aunt wouldn't have survived another hour or two. My great-aunt lived another ten years, dying in her sleep at 100. The night she died, I had a dream of my great uncle and my great aunt thanking me for listening 10 years ago. When I woke up the next morning, we found out she passed away. I still have no rational explanation for knowing all this except for the third-man effect."


16."A friend and I were in a Philly subway station after a concert. We were only 15, so neither of us was old enough to drive, so we had to take public transportation. While we waited for the train, five guys approached us and started pushing us around and robbing us. When they started pushing us towards the tracks, a giant of a man showed up. With a soft-spoken voice, he asked them what they were doing. They told him they were just having fun with us, but he didn't back down. He said we were friends and demanded they give us back our things and go home. They did and we watched as they ran away from us. We turned around to thank the man, and as mysteriously as he had appeared, he was gone. This happened over 50 years ago but is forever engraved in my mind."

Two screens display security footage of people standing and walking on a subway platform

—BR, Pennsylvania, USA

BusàPhotography / Getty Images

17."Years ago, on New Year's Eve, my boyfriend and I had been partying, and he was taking me home. He was more than a teensy bit drunk but wouldn’t let me drive. He had a 1952 Chevy (this was in 1980-ish) that was his pride and joy, and he was showing off his 'amazing driving skills' when he turned a corner and ran smack into a telephone pole. Of course, he hit it on my side of the car. I went right through the windshield face-first, my collarbone went through the unpadded dashboard, and my knees went up through it. After impact, I was in shock. I wiped my face, quickly realizing that my hands were full of blood and teeth. I was leaning back on the seat, and as I was looking out the hole my face made in the glass, there was someone there, speaking soothingly and calming me down."

"I thought it was someone who rode up on his bicycle, but when the ambulance arrived, they said no one else was there. I’ve often thought about it and I remember it like it was yesterday. Tonight, I was watching a Law and Order SVU episode that mentioned Third Man Syndrome. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of it, and it’s nice to finally put my phantom angel to rest!"

—Nancy Clare, California, USA

18."I was 24 years old, working and living alone in a sketchy area of Seattle in 1977. My apartment was at the top of an old house with an outdoor stairway entry. I'd gone out that evening with a new guy. When I came back, I had him check the apartment for anyone lurking inside, and then he left. I went to sleep, having left my bedroom door open and all the lights off. Suddenly, I woke with a start, having heard the sound of a creaking floor. I saw someone walking across the threshold into my bedroom. For some reason, I started screaming at the top of my lungs and ran out of the room and down the stairs. I startled him, and he panicked. He ran ahead of me, jumped onto the ground over the stair railing, hopped over the fence, and left."

A silhouette of a person holding a knife in what appears to be a dimly lit kitchen. Specific details about the person or surroundings are not clearly visible

19."My husband died in August of 2001. Three months later, I went to bed after turning on a large iron pedestal fan that we had used every night while he was alive and that I continued to use. After a minute or so, I thought, 'There’s something wrong with the fan,' and propped myself up on my elbow to listen. The fan sounded fine, so I laid back down. I did this two more times before I rolled over and looked at the fan, which now had flames shooting out of its motor. I rolled out of bed, crawled over to the fan, and — don’t judge me — started blowing on the flames to put them out. I heard my deceased husband’s voice in my right ear, as clear as a bell. He said, 'DON’T BLOW ON IT!' in that exasperated tone we sometimes use with our spouses. I literally threw up my hands and said out loud, 'Sorry! Sorry! You’re right!' and unplugged the fan. The flames went out immediately."

"This was not a voice-in-my-head sort of experience; I HEARD the words in the room. However, I truly don’t feel my husband was there literally saving me. I honestly believe that my brain manufactured his voice because it knew I would listen to him in my panic. In many ways, the idea that my brain can reproduce the exact sound of my husband’s voice — including the edge of exasperation in the words 'spoken' to me — so realistically that I could have sworn he was there is almost more startling than the idea that his spirit was watching over me. Truly, our brains are mind-boggling!"

—Karen, Kentucky, USA

20."When I was in college in the '90s, I loved going to rock concerts and jumping into the mosh pit. My favorite band at the time was Jane’s Addiction. I remember buying tickets for the outdoor concert in Miami, FL, and counting the days until the show. Unfortunately, I caught the flu a week before the show and was physically wiped out. But as weak as I was, I was determined to go to the concert. I remember getting there just before the band went on, and everyone was starting to get really rowdy. I remember feeling energized by the crowd and starting to forget how weak I felt."

A lively concert scene with a crowd of people. A person is being carried above the crowd, presumably "crowd surfing," with lots of raised hands surrounding them

21."When I was 9 or 10 years old, my mom and I went to Florida on vacation. One day at the beach, I decided to go out in the water while my mom sat in the sand. I knew how to swim, so she wasn’t too concerned. I didn’t know much about the ocean, how the current pulls you in, or that the sand becomes too soft to grip it with your feet if you go too far out. Well, the latter two happened to me. It felt like my life was flashing before my eyes as I fought the current. I was thinking about how I'd never see my family or dog again, while screaming and waving to my mom. I was so far out that she thought I was happily waving to her and not in trouble, so she just kept waving back at me. At that point, I knew this was how it was all going to end."

"All of a sudden, a little boy — probably the same age as me — appeared out of nowhere. I couldn't remember his face or anything about him, really, just that he held my hand all the way back to shore, and that he had blue bandaids all on his fingers. I’m not sure what happened that day or if he was even real, but he saved my life."


22."I was home from my first semester of college for Christmas in the winter of 2000. I had moved to North Carolina for school and was glad to be back in Michigan for the holidays. For years, a former coworker and his wife would host a Christmas Eve party at their house, and I was excited to attend. They lived on the other side of town from where my family lived, so it was about a 20-minute drive on the highway. On my way across town, I picked up my friend Karl, who was also invited to the party. The party was as usual, tons of fun and full of good food. It was nice to see all my friends from back home after being away at school. The party went late that night, so Karl and I left to go home around 12:30 a.m. It started snowing rather heavily, but not bad enough to prevent us from getting home. We were on a stretch of highway that had some winding turns and overpasses overhead, some of which were a little obscured. The falling snow made it harder to see around the curve."

A car with bright headlights drives on a snowy road through a forest at night

23."I was riding in a friend’s car through downtown Pensacola, Florida. We went over a speed bump and heard a pop, and the car came to a complete halt. He was a relatively new driver, and none of us knew a thing about cars, so we were all at a loss for what to do. This was before the days of cell phones being common, so we were very worried — he in particular, as it was his mother‘s car, and he had no idea what he had done to it to break it. As we wondered aloud what to do, a man appeared out of nowhere to offer help. He was relatively short, with a receding black hairline. He wore a red-and-white polo shirt and tan khakis and looked very much like a doctor of some kind. He walked up to the car, looked under the hood, seemed to do nothing at all, and then started the car instantly. The part that had popped off had vanished. While we were trying to figure out how he got the car restarted so quickly, he vanished, too."

"We didn't know where he came from so quickly, and no one saw where he went. We all went home very shaken up. This was almost 30 years ago, and I still remember it with chills."


24."I've had several experiences throughout my life where I’ve found it hard to explain how I managed to come out of a circumstance alive. Once, I was driving home on a five-lane road in the rain. It was almost dusk, and as I approached a wooded area, I noticed several young deer trying to make their way across the highway. There was a car approaching me from the other direction that hit one of the deer, and I saw it run away in my direction. I couldn’t do anything because there was a car behind me, one on the other side of me, and another two deer in the road. In fact, one of the deer was in my lane. Any way I looked, I was going to hit something. Something inexplicably told me to close my eyes, drive forward, and not slam on the brakes."

A young deer stands alone on an empty road at night, with a forest on either side

25."This happened decades ago to my ex-husband’s great-uncle, who was in his late seventies at the time. The uncle lived his entire life in a small Ohio town and essentially knew everyone. One day, he was outside pruning his fruit trees. He didn’t have many, and the yard was open and clear otherwise. As he stood on a ladder to reach the top branches, he somehow cut his forearm and dropped the pruning shears. When he got down, he found a man standing there, miraculously holding fabric in his hands. The man offered to wrap the uncle’s arm — which he did tourniquet-style due to the severe bleeding — and suggested he seek medical help."

"The uncle thanked the man and hurried into his house. My ex’s great aunt, who also was a lifelong town resident, eventually questioned her husband about the stranger who helped. The uncle claimed he hadn't seen the man until he was down the ladder and didn’t recognize him as a local resident. It was then that he realized he didn’t notice how the stranger arrived at all. He never saw him walk over or away and didn't notice a car. According to neighbors, no one witnessed anything. The uncle recovered, and he and his wife believe the stranger was a guardian angel."


26."When my daughter was maybe 4, we were coming down an escalator. She was next to me on my left. As we were about to get off at the bottom, the laces of her left shoe got caught in the escalator step as it disappeared under the guard. Her foot was quickly getting strangled. I tried pulling her foot out of her shoe, but I couldn't reach it in time. Out of nowhere, a man's arm appeared between us. In one graceful movement, the man miraculously broke her laces, freed her foot, moved over the top of us, and disappeared. Having grown up watching the Lone Ranger TV series, I actually said out loud, 'Who was that masked man?' I wondered how he did that so quickly and if he was even real. At the time, I was sorry I couldn't thank him before he disappeared. I am grateful."

A person wearing black pants and black Converse sneakers stands at the top of an escalator with their feet on the metal steps, facing downward


Christina Reichl Photography / Getty Images

27."In college, I had an Alfa Romeo — a glorified FIAT. Something was always broken. In particular, I started to have issues with my horn. It would go off at the most inconvenient times without me doing anything. People always thought I was honking at them. One day, I was stopped at a red light in the San Fernando Valley. I looked over and saw another Alfa Romeo stopped next to me. We acknowledged each other with a head nod since, at the time, you didn't see many on the road. The light turned green, and she took off. I was a few seconds behind, shifting my car into first gear. Within seconds, my car horn went off by itself. Hearing the horn, she stopped short. At that moment, a tractor-trailer ran his light from the other direction and went barreling through the intersection. Had my horn not gone off, she would have been instantly killed. She turned around, thanked me, then drove off."

—Lori, Long Beach, NY

28."When I was a little girl, my mother, my aunt, my two cousins, my baby sister, and I went to an amusement park in New Hampshire every summer. One of the first years we went, my sister was still very young, around 1-2 years old (I was about 5). My sister was still in the baby carriage when we would go places. This was in 2005 when the world was safer, so my mother left my sister in the shade while we sat on a bench in the sun across the walkway at the amusement park. I assume my mother didn’t push the brakes all the way down on the carriage, so it and my sister started rolling down a pretty large hill."

A single baby stroller is illuminated by a spotlight against a dark background. No people are present

29."I was in the Navy and had just checked into my new command, the USS Fearless, in Charleston, SC. I had not made any friends and spent the first week alone exploring the base while on liberty. On this one evening, I found myself walking the piers on an isolated part of the base. Don’t ask me why, but I felt the urge to be adventurous. I stepped off the pier and jumped on the large wooden pylons supporting the piers and quay walls. I know, not smart at all. I was young and thought myself to be immortal. The pylons were about 15 feet above the water, and the waves were smashing against the quay walls at their base. As I hopped from one pylon to the next, I didn't judge my landing properly. I overshot, and my inboard shoulder hit a storage container on the pier's edge."

"The force of the impact caused me to instantly lose my balance and fall backward off the pylon toward the water. At that moment, I lost all control of my balance, and there was no way I could prevent myself from falling backward into the water.

As I realized what was about to happen, I suddenly felt a strong force push me back on the pylon. The force was so strong that it actually stood me straight up, giving me perfect balance. I quickly got off the pylon, realizing a miracle had happened. One year earlier, I lost my favorite cousin to a violent act. I believe it may have been her that pushed me back on that pylon that late evening."

—Reginald, Conyers, GA

30."I was 17 and making the long drive home from an evening out with friends. It was around 11 at night. The highway was desolate, with thick trees on both sides. My cellphone (this was in 2005, so I had a flip phone) kept ringing, but I couldn’t answer it because I was driving, so I just left it in the seat but felt annoyed and anxious about what the call could be about. I rode the highway, coming down a steep curve, when suddenly the entire car turned off, lights and all. I just so happened to be right in front of an old, defunct gas station, so I just threw the car in neutral and coasted in. I popped the hood and got out of the car. Within 60 seconds, I saw and heard a loud, monstrous truck thundering down the hill, seemingly out of control. I watched as this truck skidded sideways, crashing directly into a tree a mere 100 feet in front of me."

I don't know who this is. The person in the image has long, wavy hair, is wearing hoop earrings and a white shirt, and appears to be looking distressed

31.And finally, "I was 32 and pregnant, and I was heading to meet a friend. It was winter, so it was dark out early. I lived in a semi-rural wooded area, and as I approached a 4-way intersection, I saw nobody coming — just pitch black in every direction. Seeing nothing, I drove across the street, but as I got to the middle of the intersection, I saw two extremely bright headlights approaching rapidly from the right. I didn’t have time to respond because they were already at the side of my car. But then, all of a sudden, they weren’t. In the blink of an eye, I had somehow made it across the intersection with no impact. The other car's headlights were right at the point of impact, and it was blinding. Then, it was suddenly pitch black again. I should have been in a horrible accident that night, but I never even saw that car again."

"It’s like they passed through my car, or I passed through theirs. I never have been able to wrap my brain around how that could have happened without divine intervention or some sort."

—Ginger, Indiana, USA

Thank you to everyone kind enough to share their stories! Have you ever had a "third man syndrome" experience like these? If so, I'd love if you'd tell us your story in the comments below or via this completely anonymous form.

Note: Submissions are edited for length and/or clarity.

If you enjoyed these stories, you can read a bunch more of them here.