The strength of a 'Sole Survivor'
Cecelia Cichan opens up 25 years after Northwest Flight 255 crash
The only photo of Cecelia Cichan ever released to the media captured the attention of people around world when it landed on the cover of Life Magazine. At 4 years old, she was the only survivor of the Aug. 16, 1987, crash of Northwest Flight 255.
The plane took off from Detroit Metro Airport en route to Phoenix. But only moments later, it crashed into Middlebelt Road.
Witnesses and rescue crews rushed to the scene to discover parts of the plane scattered all over the roadway.
Interview: Firefighter talks about rescue, relationship with Cecelia Cichan
Archive video: Witnesses describe seeing plane go down
Archive video: Support pours in for Cecelia's recovery
Raw video: Flight 255's flight recorder
A total of 149 passengers and 6 crew members were killed – among them were Cecelia’s mother, father and brother.
But she was found in the debris – alive, but suffering from serious burns.
She was rushed to the University of Michigan Hospital. Which she recovered, received cards, letters, teddy bears and money from around the world. In an instant, she became known as the miracle child. Everyone wanted to see Cecelia, but her remaining family shielded her from the spotlight, moving her to their home in Alabama.
She’s kept her life private for the past 25 years, refusing media interviews. But she hasn’t turned her back on those affected by the tragedy. She’s posted messages on online forums and kept in contact with people like John Thiede, who was one of the first firefighters on the scene and heard her quiet cries. He was even invited to her wedding.
Cecelia says she’s breaking her silence now to tell her story because she’s not alone. She’s one of 14 people, Sole Survivors, who come together in a new groundbreaking film.
Ky Dickens is the director of Sole Survivor. The film shares Cecelia’s graduation from the University of Alabama with a degree in psychology, her marriage and how she has the image of a plane tattooed on her wrist.
She says she isn’t afraid to fly and does remember being on the plane that tragic day.
In her interview with Dickens, Cecelia says she thinks about the crash every day.