KNAU and Arizona News
10:37 am
Thu August 16, 2012

25 Years After The Crash: Arizona "Miracle Girl" Gives First Interview

Today marks the 25th anniversary of one of the deadliest plane crashes in U.S. history. The sole survivor of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 was a four year old Arizona girl, who became known to the world as "the miracle girl". For the first time since the disaster, she's publicly shared her story of survival. Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

Cecilia Cichan, her parents and brother, were traveling from Michigan back home to Phoenix when their plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Rescuers thought none of the 155 passengers and crew had survived. But, as firefighter John Thiede sifted through the wreckage, he found Cecilia, badly injured, but miraculously alive.

"You'd hear that faint cry a baby doll makes. And at the time I looked to my right and I could see an arm kind of bent coming out of a chair."

Cichan recovered but never spoke about the crash publicly until now. She granted one interview to the filmmaker of a soon-to-be-released documentary featuring sole survivors of air disasters. Excerpts from the film were broadcast this week on The Today Show.

"I think about the accident every day. It's kind of hard not to think about it. When I look in the mirror, I have visual scars."

Cecilia Cichan is now 29 years old. The firefighter who found her in the wreckage attended her wedding last year. A memorial for the victims of Flight 255 took place earlier today at the crash site.