Local man shares how Flight 255 crash still impacts him, his family 35 years later

35 years since Flight 255 crashed on I-94

On August 16, 1987, Northwest flight 255 crashed moments after takeoff onto Middlebelt Road. Every year on this date, family members gather in Romulus to remember the lives lost instantly.

Tony Zanger says that it’s still part of his life and that it feels as if it happened yesterday.

“It’s embedded in the mind. It will never leave,” said Zanger.

Zanger’s brother and his fiancé were onboard Flight 255. Before he knew about the crash, he said he just knew something was wrong.

“I was scooping ice cream, and the sky was black, and something hit me right here and sucked the life out of me. I can’t explain it.”

Read more - Hank Winchester: It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years since Flight 255 crashed on I-94

Soon the plane crash that killed his brother and 156 people altogether was on TV,

Within half an hour, relatives started calling and coming over to Zanger’s house.

After the tragedy, the families banded together, working to pass legislation to protect families and hold airlines accountable.

“A few of us have traveled all around so we can pass the family assistance act,” said Zanger.

The law provides protection and benefits to survivors of aviation disasters. It includes prompt notifications, mental health support for families, briefing for families on the investigation before it’s released to the media, and bans all unsolicited communication from attorneys for 45 days after a crash.

“We’re survivors as well,” said Zanger. “We survived the tragedy anyone can survive. You just have to believe and stick with it.”

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

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

About the Author:

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.