July 02, 2012 at 05:37 PM EDT

“I don’t think it’s anything to be proud of, being hurt,” says Amazing Spider-Man stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong. “It’s invariably a mistake, something gone wrong, a miscalculation.” And most of the time Hollywood’s top stunt men nail the ever-more-intense action sequences that pack thrill seekers into theaters every summer. But sometimes things do go wrong, and when you’re, say, driving an airborne car that’s rigged to explode, the consequences can be devastating. We asked a bunch of prominent stunt pros about their most brutal accidents.

Andy Armstrong (The Amazing Spider-Man, Planet of the Apes, Thor)

Armstrong broke his back in five places while shooting “a silly truck commercial” for Mazda in 1998. “I jumped a truck [off a ramp] and had a miscalculation where I landed very badly,” he says. “It was very, very scary when I landed. I was in the air long enough before I hit the ground to have two thoughts. The first was ‘This is going to hurt.’ And the second was ‘Wow, maybe this won’t hurt. Maybe this will be the big one.’ Maybe it will be, you know, fade to black.”

Then he hit the ground. “There was excruciating pain,” he says. “The first thing I did was wiggle my toes, so I realized I hadn’t severed the spinal cord. But I knew I was in bad shape. I made sure I got myself out of the car and got down. While I was laying on the ground I handed my wig to another driver and said, ‘I think you’ll be finishing the day out, because I’m off to hospital.’ But you learn from these things. The bad thing is to do something like that and not learn anything from it.”

NEXT: Bourne Legacy‘s Dan Bradley gets burned in an exploding car

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