On July 15th 1984, Kari Swenson, a highly successful US Biathlete, was abducted by father-and-son pair Don and Dan Nichols. The Nichols’ were survivalists who had planned to make Swenson the son’s bride in order to start a cult in the mountains.
After Kari failed to return home, a search party was sent out to look for her. Dozens of locals, along with family and friends spent hours combing through the woods of Big Sky, Montana, where they knew Kari had been cross-country training earlier in the day. Eventually a member of the party, Alan Goldstein, a friend of Swenson’s, stumbled onto the Nichols’ camp and was fatally shot by Don. In a state of panic, Dan Nichols slipped and his gun accidentally fired, shooting Kari in the abdomen. She miraculously survived. The duo fled, leaving Swenson chained to a tree. She sat alone with her dead friend for over four hours until she was found by rescuers.
Her surviving such a horrific injury is certainly amazing, but even more so is the fact that she went on to compete in the Women’s Biathlon World Championships in Chamonix, France. Despite having only 80% lung capacity, Swenson led the U.S. Team to win a bronze medal. Nowadays, Keri works as a veterinarian in Bozeman, Montana.