Meeting Cecelia Cichan

In August of 2011, we had the pleasure of interviewing Cecelia Cichan, the Sole Survivor of Northwest Flight 255. ¬†Our interview with Cecelia was the first that she’s ever given about her accident and we feel grateful to include her positive outlook, loving insight, bright smile, and honest reflection in this film. ¬†Cecelia is an astounding person, a humble observer and an inspiring example of how one can pick up their life after a tragedy.

We love you Cecelia.


By admin


  1. David Cichan May 8, 2012 1:27 pm

    Celi – What else can be said? We all love you.
    Uncle Dave.

  2. Russell May 13, 2012 2:19 pm

    Dear Cecilia,

    From the moment I read about your survival in 1987, I prayed for you and your family and for everyone affected by the NW255 tragedy. It does my heart good to see that you’ve grown into a young woman with the strength and character to participate in a project that I imagine wasn’t easy.

    All the best to you and yours.


  3. Kathy May 16, 2012 6:05 pm

    I would have been on that flight going to Orange County, but instead I had a friend that I had to take to Chicago and flew out of O’Hare. When I got hom, my voice mail was filled with concerned friends thinking that I was on it. I remember hearing about the sole survivor little girl (who is my daughter’s age) with purple nail polish! Every now and then I wonder how that little girl is doing with the purple nail polish is doing? I hope you are well sweetie and that good things have come your way despite all the pain and tradegy that you indured. May God bless you and comfort you and bring you lots of love and joy in your life.

  4. Michael May 18, 2012 4:39 pm

    I respect your courage, your authenticity, your determination, your love of suffering people and attempts to improve the world, and your sense of self. I look forward to watching the documentary. Roll, Tide, Roll!

  5. Jeremy June 11, 2012 10:04 pm

    I remember that warm night,my friends and I were messing around in the front yard.I was 16 then.After that night,I always wondered what happened to that little girl.I knew everyone else close to her was gone.Would she be ok?Was there any other family to help?Could there be any future for a child with so much loss,at such a young age?As time went on,I read about your education down south(wish you went to U of M) and was so happy to see you have risen above.I don’t know you C.C.,but I send my love .My wife and I have two little girls now,and I hope they can move their life forward as you have…..FAMILY will always be there.My best Jeremy

  6. Patti pounders June 11, 2012 11:22 pm

    I remember this like it was yesterday ,So many lost, Cecelia, you’ve been in our thoughts from time to time through the yrs since the crash, I knew you were raised be relatives.God Bless you , I hope you’re doing well….
    Thinking of you….

  7. Jennifer June 12, 2012 1:45 am

    You are a phoenix. So many people in the Detroit area adopted you as one of their own. I was a little girl when 255 went down. My best friend’s dad was one of the first responders….the whole region held its breath when we found out that you survived. You are a beautiful woman who has endured more than anyone should have to. I am so happy to see that you are doing well. I have read that many survivors struggle with “why” they survived when others did not. In a word hope. You give all of us the hope and strength to survive impossible situations. I do not know how much you remember of that day, but I thank you for having the courage to let all of us in to share your private thoughts and memories. God Bless You!

  8. Amy June 12, 2012 2:08 am

    I always wondered what happened to her too. I was happy that her guardians kept her out of the media. I had to take my cousin to Detroit Metro the day after that crash – it was heartbreaking to see all of the destruction. My cousin couldn’t even get on her flight, she was so upset by it. I’m so happy this young woman is doing well.

  9. Cathy June 12, 2012 3:40 am

    I live a few miles from the crash location of Flight 255 in Romulus, MI. I will never forget the day that NW Flight 255 went down. I cried for you, Cecelia, your family, and every other person on the flight. I prayed you would survive your injuries. I have driven over the crash location hundreds of times since 1987 and I have thought about you every single time, never forgetting your name, and hoping that you were well. I understood your guardians desire for privacy, but have always wanted to know if you were ok. I’m so happy to finally find out that you are doing well. Best wishes to you.

  10. Brian June 12, 2012 9:47 am

    We all think about you here in Michigan. So many of us here in Michigan remember that awful day. Every time I drive by the crash site I think of you and your family. You remain a hero up here in Michigan.

  11. DONNA June 12, 2012 1:10 pm

    I was in Detroit Metro Airport when that flight went down. It is a sight I will never forget. It was that very moment that my fear of flying took root and has stayed with me. I’ve often wondered what happened to you and how your life has turned out. How could such a young person survive such a tragic loss? Your courage and strength is amazing.

    All My best,

  12. Sam June 12, 2012 1:57 pm

    I work for the University of Michigan Health System and remember Ceclia as a patient at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the outpouring of concern and well wishes from all over the United States and beyond for this little girl. Your story of strenght and determination lives in the hearts of the employees of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

    I have often wondered how you are doing and now I can see you’ve grown into a strong young woman.

  13. Lisa Nettle Modelski June 12, 2012 3:11 pm

    I was 16 and lived in Romulus right off I-94 at the time of the crash and my folks still do. When I was little, my dad and I followed fire engines in our subdivision a couple times and watched the brave firefighters put out fires or rescue a cat (yes, they really did that). On that fateful day, my Dad happened to hear something on his scanner in the garage and arrived at the scene before the emergency crews and certainly before the area was closed off. He witnessed first-hand the engine in the median of I-94. How anyone was not killed by THAT still amazes me! The small fires he saw on the embankment on Middlebelt Road near Goddard Road were curious at the time, but made ghastly knowing later that they were belongings and parts of those that perished. My father quickly realized that the best thing he could do was LEAVE and let those trained get in and do their jobs. He also vowed that he will never, ever chase a fire engine siren or [unknowingly] get in the way of emergency personnel again. I was visiting my boyfriend in another city and was very upset when I couldn’t reach anyone at the house. While I am ashamed to admit that a few of our city’s less-than-stellar citizens were caught looting the area, I am proud of the way the city came together in response to this tragedy. My family had participated in more than one “mock” airplane disaster scenarios while growing up and the lessons learned during these truly assisted with the first-rate disaster response teams. Kindness was shown to the families of the survivors and medical staff flooded the local hospitals in hope that there would be survivors. I recall the airline employees, emergency personnel, but especially the first-responders (some of which I knew) were really having a hard time dealing with this unspeakable tragedy until it was reported that ‘little Cecelia Cichan aka Miracle Baby’ was found alive due in large part by her mother’s protective arms around her. There wasn’t a dry eye in the city! I have always been curious about how you, Cecelia, are faring in life but grateful for the family that took you in and protected you from the public eye. To this day, I cannot drive by that viadock (real grass has long since grown where the ‘spray-painted grass’ was) without thoughts of you and those that perished. Cecelia, even if you had never gone on to do another promising thing in your life (which is definitely NOT the case!), your survival helped to heal a city, a state, an industry if you will, and even a nation. Perhaps THAT was your destiny and everything you’ve done since then has been all YOU. I think that goes for every single one of these sole survivors. Perhaps it’s not ‘a purpose yet unfulfilled,’ but maybe your destinies lied in the fact that you all DID survive and spread HOPE by doing so. God Bless You ALL!

  14. deegemini June 13, 2012 2:24 am

    Our destiny is ordained by God.

  15. Debbie Sosin June 14, 2012 2:42 am

    In 1987, I couldn’t get the crash out of my mind because of Cecelia Cichan’s miraculous story. I wrote an essay that was published on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe on August 26, 1987, about the whole issue of the sole survivor and what she represented. I’m astounded to find this story currently in the news! I’ve thought of Cecelia so often (I’m a graduate of U. of Michigan) and am so glad to see her as an adult and glad that Ky Dickens has tackled the subject in a documentary.

    I have hard-copy xeroxes of the original (with a beautiful photo), but I believe the original is not in the Boston Globe archives. The essay text is on my website, which I hope people will read. I understand now that there are some inaccuracies, but I was drawing from news reports from that week. Go to deborahsosin dot com/archivedessays.php. I hope the link works! It’s at the bottom of the page.

    Best of luck with the film! And, Cecelia, if you’re reading this, know that you’ve been in my heart and my prayers for these 25 years. I hope I’ll get a chance to see the film and witness your courage and spirit. Seize the day! Enjoy life!

    Debbie Sosin

  16. Victory June 26, 2012 4:41 pm

    Our Father sets His children aside for Himself, what a GREAT God we serve!

  17. Willow August 1, 2012 3:13 am

    To the little girl with the purple nail polish…..I, remember this all so well and the local news of a survivor with little purple nails. The newscasters were looking for her family. Yes, we were glued to the tv however, I had to commute in for a trip to Tokyo. However, the Lumpkin family and grandparents came forward to claim more than a angel. Wings, are something that I always wanted however, I had to study for them.

    Cecelia, if you are reading this I am the lady that went to Tokyo a day later and flew over the sight. Tears, heartbreak and an image that reminds me of that day that changed all of our lives. I, am so happy for you and look forward to celebrate your life and words as you are a comfort to the people that knew you were with their loved one’s when they lost their lives.

    I, hope you received your gift basket from Tokyo and I bought you some fun things and sent them to your mailing address that was published for well-wishers and prayer warriors. Your grandparents sent me a lovely photo and scripture card, as they updated your condition, requests for prayer and most of all you were loved. Reading, all the e-mails from a nation has me in tears.

    Finally, after 25 years.. I, can tell you.. when I sent the gifts they were bought on my 2 day layover in Tokyo. However, I did not tell your grandparent’s what I did. You see I… earned my wing’s at Northwest Orient. Airlines as a flight attendant. Yes, I am almost 60 years old now.. and have kept that Christmas note from your family with your picture etched. I, am still flying and my co-workers also perished however, I was a single mom and had to work and blessed enough to get a set of wings.

    Much Blessing and Love from someone who pray’s for you comes to mind.

    Your, grandparents, shared on a scripture from Phillipians. Please let your family know that this is little white card…is.. my most cherished keepsake, as, I head to retirement and clip my wings……Thank you, Ohiolady

  18. jesusfreak101:) August 14, 2012 12:09 pm

    when i heard about this i couldnt sleep for days just thinking that there was someone some random girl at the time laying burned up in a big pile of rubbish metal I was just shocked like how did she do it it brings tears to even hear her voice because i just know that God himself saved her it just gives me hope faith and belif that we have a saviour .

  19. Nina W. Yoakum August 14, 2012 12:43 pm

    I traveled on a commercial airliner August 16, 1987 safely. When I learned of this plane crash I was intrigued with Celelia and read as much as I could find on the tragedy with the silver lining of God keeping Celelia alive and well. I so admired her extended family for how they chose to raise her with dignity and grace away from media. As much as we the people would have loved to known how she was doing daily it was her only chance for a normal upbringing of any sort. Brilliant and unselfish on her families part. Not often found in this day and age.
    Five months later my own brother died in a commercial plane crash with half surivivors and half deceased. He was 36 years old. He had a 12 year old and 2 year old daughter. I found myself going thru all my own questions. Why did this person live and not that person? Most of all why not my sweet brother, father of two lovely girls? My family even took one of the survivors out to dinner with his wife. We just wanted some kind of closure. 25 years later I can tell you there is no such thing. Just angels in our daily lives if you will.
    A year or so later whilst talking to a gentleman I worked with in Shawnee Mission, KS. I discovered he lost most his family in the same plane crash Cecelia’s family was on. He was flying out of Kansas City, MO. to meet them for the reunion and they all flew out of Detroit. It wasn’t meant to be. So we helped each other and he had more losses in his family than I could bare to imagine. I will try to find him now … all these years later … and make sure he knows of this film. It will be so healing for so many.
    I want to thank each an everyone of you for being so brave and sharing with us a part of you. You are truly amazing and God isn’t through with you yet.
    The number of people that will be helped by your courage will be incredibly high. It is a very selfless act of yours. You all so deserve to live life to the fullest. I hope this film frees you up 100% All good things …

  20. Stephen August 14, 2012 3:09 pm

    I Survived only because of a last minute change, my friend asked me to come visit Detroit 2 weeks early. NW was very nice and changed my flight without charge for 2 weeks earlier I took the same plane with same flight number 255. I almost did not even get a seat for the sooner flight. I still remember it departs at 7:55PM to Phoenix. Today I was reminded about this flight and broke down .. it took me 2 years to be able to fly again after that . I have mixed feelings as to why I am still here I dont even know why i’m writing but I am thankful I am here…

  21. Ron August 14, 2012 4:54 pm

    I too, Have wondered how you have been. I was 7 miles from the Airport and heard it go down not knowing for a couple more hours what had happen. Then I heard of this little girl who survived this horrible accident. I’m a Truck Driver now and drive on the site everyday. There’s not a day I don’t ever think about you or that tragedy. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie and my heart has always gone out to you. YOU ARE AMAZING!!! God Bless you Cecelia.

  22. Gerry Mallon August 15, 2012 2:59 am

    I do not know you but I knew your grandfather, Tony & attended his funeral today. I know how lovingly he spoke of you & how he wanted all good things for you. You now have an additional angel in heaven to watch over you.
    May you have a wonderful future. God bless you!

  23. Loretta '"cuz" August 15, 2012 5:49 am


    You have been in my thoughts for many years…. you see… I am your Mom’s 1st cousin and I went to high school with your Mom. We shared classes, laughs, smiles, and talks. Our Dad’s were brothers, and Paula and I looked alike and sometimes thought alike. She was a great cuz, as ‘cuz’, is what we called each other, she -a wonderful, smart and fun gal. She inspired me, as we grew up together. I have a son the same age as you, and I can remember the day I got the call. I am so glad you are well and I knew you were in good hands. Ironically, I live in Arizona now, funny how life is, and how things happen. I wish I could have been there today, to see all of you in the family, as I know today was a day we will remember, with the loss of someone very dear. My prayers, 8/14/12 and I know — the date of a special birthday. Keep your amazing strength and grace…. love and peace to you. Loretta

  24. PHOEBE August 16, 2012 8:01 am

    I do not know you, we may never meet, but child of God i want to tell you that God dearly loves you.It is not that He did not like those who perished neither were they sinners no, God wanted that today when this message reaches any soul it can change the persons heart, encourage, gives hope and show the whole world that almighty God can preserve, set aside his people for His noble use and purpose.Be blessed forever friend

  25. Christy August 21, 2012 2:58 am

    I know I have never met you or know you but you have grown into a sweet young lady. I heard somewhere you went to college and recently married. Live your life to the fullest, God has given you a miracle. It seems your off to a great start. Be happy, love life and know many people are behind you. We lost loved ones that day but also found a glimmer of hope in your survival. I know that may seem a impossible expectation, but if your happy and making others happy-your doing great!


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