Woman Says She Was Saved After A Car Crash By A Person Who Wasn't Really There, And She's Not The Only One

It's a mysterious phenomenon called Third Man Syndrome, which is often reported after near-death experiences.

woman detailing her experience with the supernatural phenomenon third man syndrome @maanijohns / TikTok

Most of us have had one of those experiences where something mysterious happens that just can't really be explained, such strange moments of déjà vu or a premonition that turned out to be true. But one woman's strange experience is on a whole other level that seems downright other-worldly. And it turns out she's not alone — countless others have experienced the 'Third Man Syndrome' too.

The 'Third Man syndrome' is often reported after near-death experiences.

A woman on TikTok experienced the supernatural phenomenon known as 'Third Man Syndrome' after a terrible car crash.


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TikToker @maanijohns told her story in response to a recent episode of a podcast called "Heart Starts Pounding," which focuses on mysteries and paranormal experiences. The podcast's host posted a TikTok explaining "Third Man Syndrome," also sometimes known as the "third man factor," and when @maanijohns saw it she knew she had to share her own experience. 

As she details in her TikTok, back in 2019 she and her partner were involved in what she calls "a catastrophic car accident that left me disabled."

The accident occurred after they hydroplaned and bashed into a tree alongside the road they were traveling on. She says that she and her boyfriend "had the same story" of what occurred in the accident, but after hitting the tree, their stories diverge dramatically. As she put it, "he's like, what the fu-k are you talking about?"




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The TikToker recalls being rescued from the wreckage of the car by a woman named Amber, whom she later found out had never been at the scene of the accident.

"I open the car door, I'm like, 'help, help,'" @maanijohns said. "This lady comes and drags me out from underneath my arms and onto the grass." Once she was safely out of the car, the woman introduced herself. "She's like, my name is Amber, I'm a nursing student. Keep talking to me."


The TikToker did as she was told, even as she was "coughing blood [and] spitting glass." Amber reassured her and told her to just keep talking — a common instruction during emergency scenarios to ward off the potentially deadly effects of shock. "She's just rocking me back and forth."

Once the police arrived, Amber began detailing the TikToker's injuries to them so they could then relay them to the paramedics, who arrived shortly thereafter.

The memories of this event are so vivid @maanijohns says she remembers every detail of Amber's appearance, from her skin tone to her hairstyle to the sound of her voice. But the cops and paramedics had an entirely different story.

"Everybody on the scene was like, no, there was no Amber, sorry, it was a man that helped you out the car." The TikToker's boyfriend, who was trapped in the car, also reported an entirely different story. "You were screaming my name," he said, "bloody murder...until the man helped you out the car."


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Third Man Syndrome is reported by scores of accident victims, people who get lost and injured in the wilderness, and others who find themselves in deadly scenarios, and it is so far unexplained.

As the YouTube video below details, there are scores of documented cases of Third Man Syndrome spanning eons from all sorts of people — sailors, explorers, and survivors of not only accidents but also terrorist attacks like 9/11. Even poet T.S. Eliot is thought to have written a poem about the phenomenon, called "The Waste Land."

The phenomenon is so common among mountaineers, including Frank Smythe, one of the first men to attempt to summit Mount Everest in the 1930s, that it's become known as a sort of rite of passage when attempting death-defying wilderness excursions. Pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh and Antarctica explorer Ernest Shackleton are also among those who have reportedly experienced the supernatural phenomenon.


So what the heck is it exactly?

Many feel it is something akin to a guardian angel, but as is so often the case with phenomena like these, science hasn't reached a consensus. Among the theories are that Third Man Syndrome is a hallucination, a biochemical reaction by brains under severe stress, or even something similar to sleep paralysis.

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But John Geiger, the man who wrote the book on the phenomenon, "The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible," says these explanations don't quite cut it. "It’s not a hallucination in the sense that hallucinations are disordering," he told NPR in 2009. "[The Third Man] is a very helpful and orderly guide." And while he acknowledges that there is "some very interesting science behind" Third Man Syndrome, he feels "clearly there is a spiritual or religious explanation to this phenomenon." 


Many other TikTokers firmly agree. While many marveled that "the way that the mind can protect itself is amazing and mysterious," others were firmly convinced that something supernatural and beyond our understanding aided @maanijohns that day.

For her part, @maanijohns agrees, but she can't help but wish that Amber is actually out there somewhere and their paths will cross again someday. "I definitely believe it was a spiritual being," she wrote, "but I still hold hope."

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social media and human interest topics.