On August 16th, 1987 at 8:46 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Northwest Airlines Flight 255 – a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 DC-9 tail number N312RC – failed take off and all aboard the craft except for one little girl were lost.
On a lonely hill in a surprisingly pastoral setting next to Interstate 94, the families of the Flight 255 passengers and crew have created a memorial to commemorate the crash site. Many family members believe the city of Romulus, Wayne County, and the State of Michigan did not want anything permanent marking the site. 7 years after the crash, the families won out. 20 years after the crash, nobody who lives in this region has forgotten that horrible day.
154 people (6 crew) were killed – with only one survivor, 4 year old Cecelia Marie Cichan. 2 people were killed on the ground. Cecelia was found strapped in her seat several yards away from her mothers body. Years later, urban legend told a story of how she was saved because her mother wrapped her own body around the girl. The real story is no less heart stopping.
From the NTSB:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flightcrew’s failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure that the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the absence of electrical power to the airplane takeoff warning system which thus did not warn the flightcrew that the airplane was not configured properly for takeoff. The reason for the absence of electrical power could not be determined.
The plane clipped several light-posts on the runway, smashed into a rental car facility, and then slid into Middle Belt Road right along side the I-94 overpass.
Where was God ?
Is He still alive ?
Was His back turned
To the boarding of Flight 255 ?
They came from many places
To catch this Phoenix-bound flight
That was scheduled for take off into a turbulent night.
God is forever, He is the beginning and the end
He boarded the plane and rode with them, my friend
In the heart of each person on Flight 255
Whose ticket read “Phoenix”, but was destined for the sky.
In a matter of minutes, after leaving the ground
The temples they lived in were strewn all around
But their spirits kept climbing to an airport on high
Where time does not matter and nobody dies.
Suddenly, a voice filled with love, and so clear,
Said, “This is your Captain, our destination is near,
The lights of that city are coming into view,
Where life without heartache is waiting for you.”
There was yet another voice, tender and kind –
“Your runway is clear, Captain,
See how its lined,
They are singing so sweetly,
God is alive,
Welcome home to heaven,
“Final Flight” by Royal Oak native Duane Adams