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Cecelia Cichan, Sole Survivor of Michigan Plane Crash, Shares Her Story

michigan airlines flight 255

Cecelia Cichan was the sole survivor of a 1987 Michigan plane crash which took the lives of 156 people including her entire family. Cichan was only 4-years-old when she was pulled from the burning plane and is now sharing her memories of the ordeal and how it impacted her life for the first time. Cecelia Cichan recently got married, and, John Thiede, the firefighter who saved her life, walked her down the aisle.

Cichan was referred to as the “miracle child” by the media after she emerged from the Michigan Airlines flight 255 crash wreckage. The firefighter heard the preschooler whimpering and dug her out of the carnage, according to the Daily Mail. The plane crashed to the ground in flames shortly after take-off from airport in Michigan on the way to Phoenix. The crash also took the lives of two individuals on the ground.

The Michigan Airlines flight 255 crash remains one of the most deadly plane disasters in United States history. Cecelia Cichan lost both of her parents and her 6-year-old brother when the plane went down. Although Cichan was fortunate to be alive, she suffered a fractured skull, broken collarbone, broken leg, and multiple third-degree burns.

Cichan’s story is part of a new documentary entitled Sole Survivor focusing on passengers who lived through deadly plane crashes. Michigan rescuers believe Cecelia Cichan survived the plane crash because her mother Paula, shielded the child with her own body as the plane went down. The family, which include father Michael and brother David, were on the way home from vacation.

“It’s kind of hard not to think about it. When I look in the mirror, I have visual scars,” Cichan stated in the Sole Survivor documentary.

michigan airlines flight 255 25th anniversary

Cecelia Cichan was the focus of intense media coverage after the Michigan plane crash. Her aunt Rita and Uncle Franklin Lumpkin shielded the little girl from the press and raised her away from the cameras in Birmingham, Alabama. Cichan has a tattoo of an airplane on her wrist to remind her of the tragedy which took the lives of her family. The 25th anniversary of Michigan Airlines flight 255 will be commemorated on Thursday at a black granite memorial near where the plane went down.

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5 Responses to “Cecelia Cichan, Sole Survivor of Michigan Plane Crash, Shares Her Story”

  1. Becky Chapman-Channer

    I will never forget that day I was at a hotel in a pool right by the airport and I had my two yr old in my arm.s and fell in to the deep end and almost drowed I was yelling for help and my ex.s family just thougt I was playing it still up set.s me scary that was right when the plane went down

  2. Michael DeAngelis

    Northwest Airlines Flight 255 – not "Michigan Airlines". I went to the airport that night to pick up a friend who worked for Sky Chefs, the company that took the food & drink supplies out to the planes. Rather than entering off Wick Rd, I made my way through the service drives off Middlebelt where the rental car lots once were south of Wick Rd. The scene was nothing short of horrific. I'll never forget the sight and smell of the burning jet fuel.

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