Hundreds attend memorial service for Flight 255 victims - KMSP-TV

Hundreds attend memorial service for Flight 255 victims

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ROMULUS, Mich. (WJBK) -

It was one of the darkest days in metro Detroit.  It's been 25 years since the crash of Northwest Flight 255.  Thursday, families gathered at the crash site to remember those who died.

The big jet crashed just seconds after taking off from Detroit Metro Airport.  154 people aboard and two on the ground were killed for a total of 156 victims.

There was only one survivor, four-year-old Cecelia Cichan.  Her picture is on a backboard firefighters used to rescue her and rush her to the hospital.  She was traveling with her parents.  Her mother, father and older brother were all killed in the accident.

Father Jim Wieging was the priest who served as the chaplain for the Detroit Police Department at the time of the crash.  He led the service.  He has officiated every service.

Wieging said the families needed to be there and they need each other.

"This is the group they can find people who understand.  They don't have to try to explain it.  They know where they're coming from, and they don't have to say let me try to inform you.  They know."

Wieging read all the names of the 156 victims beginning at 8:46 p.m., the time of the crash.  Approximately 300 family members, friends and first responders were there with prayers, candles and curiosity.

"That what ifs.  What would they be like.  I think another question that comes up is what are all 156 of these individuals doing?  All they all together?  Probably living it up.  Probably looking down and having a great big grin on their face.  I think it would make them happy to know that we're trying to do them proud," said Tony Zanger, who lost his brother.

23-year-old Army Second Lieutenant Christine Hoffman was returning to her army job after a visit with her family in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Her father said he had to be attend this service.

"Recognize and pay our respects to our daughter and to all the other victims of the crash of 255 and say a little prayer."

One of the victim's family members told us they had to be there and will come back because they don't have a cemetery to go to grieve.

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