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Woman who was sole survivor in plane crash which killed 156 still has visual scars

Woman who was sole survivor in plane crash which killed 156 still has visual scars

Cecelia Cichan opened up about the tragic crash

Meet the then four-year-old ‘miracle child’ 35 years on who survived a fatal plane crash.

In 1987, at just four years old, Cecelia Cichan became the only survivor when a Northwest Airlines flight 255 crashed just after taking off in Michigan.

She became known as the ‘miracle child’ for making it out of the fatal accident alive, and she spoke out as an adult about what she can remember.

Back in 2021, MailOnline ran a story on Cichan’s first public interview about the disaster.

They noted that the crash remained one of the deadliest air disasters in US history, and included an interview Cichan gave as part of a documentary called Sole Survivor, in which plane crash survivors share their stories.

Cichan - who is thought to have survived because her mum shielded her body - said: “It’s kind of hard not to think about it.

“When I look in the mirror, I have visual scars.”

Not only did Cichan’s mum tragically die in the crash, but so did her dad and six-year-old brother.

The family had been returning from a holiday.

Cichan herself suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg, third degree burns, a broken skull and broken collarbone.

“When I look in the mirror, I have visual scars.”
Yellow Wing Productions

After the crash, it is reported that Cichan had to have four skin grafts.

She was then raised by her uncle, Franklin Lumpkin, and her aunt, Rita - who is the sister of her late mum - and they made sure to shelter Cichan from media attention after the crash.

Cichan eventually left hospital after seven weeks and grew up in Alabama.

Speaking in the documentary, Cichan - who has a tattoo of a plane on her wrist to commemorate the tragedy - said she wanted to speak out about the incident because she was able to do so alongside other survivors, explaining: “That’s why I’m willing to get involved and be part of something bigger.”

Incredibly, Cichan kept in touch with the families of those who died, and even became friends with firefighter John Thiede, who pulled Cichan from the wreckage.

Of finding the little girl, Thiede previously said: “I heard that faint cry a baby doll makes.

“I looked to my right and I could see an arm, kind of bent, coming out of a chair.”

Thiede was even at Cichan’s wedding many years later, and said of the special day: “To see her come down the aisle, my heart, I really lost it.

“Just to see her in person was something.”

Featured Image Credit: Yellow Wing Productions