Published: Monday May 21, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday November 3, 2014 MYT 2:55:43 PM

W Mitchell triumphs against all odds

W Mitchell became a human torch in a bizarre accident in 1971, but he survived, only to be left paralysed following a plane crash four years later. Today, Mitchell travels the world to inspire others to take charge of their lives.

W MITCHELL was just 28 years old when he met with a horrific accident that left him with more than 65% burns on his body.

He remembers the day well. It was July 19, 1971, and Mitchell was feeling very good about life. He’d just obtained his student’s pilot licence and completed his first solo flight the day before. He had a job he enjoyed (driving the famous San Francisco Cable Cars), was in perfect health and had a gorgeous girlfriend.

“I felt like the king of San Francisco as I zoomed up South Van Ness (on a motor-cycle),” he writes in his book, It’s Not What Happens To You, It’s What You Do About It.

The Van Ness is a four-lane street that runs through San Francisco and Mitchell was keeping to his lane when a laundry truck made a sudden right turn and veered into his path, causing him to crash right into its side. Mitchell went down – he crushed his right elbow and cracked his pelvis. Worse still, the impact popped the cover of his gas tank and petrol spilt over the engine of Mitchell’s bike and onto his body.

Full story in The Star today. If you have a similar story to share e-mail us at

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