Firefighter who pulled lone survivor from Flight 255 wreckage talks about crash, 35 years later

The man who pulled the lone survivor from the crash recalls that night.

It’s been 35 years since the tragic crash of Northwest Flight 255.

The plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Detroit Metro Airport back on Aug. 16, 1987, killing 156 people -- with just one person surviving, a four-year-old girl.

Hank Winchester talked with Captain John Thiede of the Romulus Fire Department, the firefighter who pulled that child from the wreckage that night.

“I was just checking this, it was weird. When I look back at it, I can picture how the scene was,” Thiede said. “Once we found her, we had that little piece of joy that we found a survivor, because we didn’t think we’d find anybody.”

Cecilia Cichan was the four-year-old girl who suffered serious injuries, but survived the crash. The family she was traveling with did not survive. The family was from Arizona.

“It was tough, because, a lot of those (firefighters) guys went home with nothing, and we found a person,” Thiede said of being a young firefighter at the scene.

Watch his full interview with Thiede in the video player above.

More -- Reporter notebook: It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years since Flight 255 crashed on I-94

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.