In 1987, Cecelia Cichan was 4 years old when the plane she was traveling on with her parents and sibling crashed, taking with it the lives of 6 crew members, all except one of the 149 passengers as well as two people on the ground.
One of the passengers on the flight was Nick Vanos who was an NBA center for the Phoenix Suns.
Cecelia, the lone survivor, was discovered by emergency personnel, in her seat which was lying face down, separated from her other family members who had perished in the crash. She was rushed to the hospital where she underwent treatment for serious injuries such as burns and skull fractures. Later on, she went to live with her maternal aunt and uncle in Alabama who kept her away from the media's prying eyes.
According to Wikipedia, Northwest Airlines Flight 255 was a Mcdonnell-Douglas MD-82 that crashed shortly after takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. This is an excerpt from the article as to the cause of the crash: "The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flight crew's failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure that the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff."
This is what Cecelia, now known as Cecelia Crocker after marriage to her high school sweetheart, had to say in a2013 interview about her harrowing experience: "When I realized I was the only person to survive that plane crash, I was maybe in middle school, high school maybe. Being an adolescent and confused, so it was just extra stress for me. I remember feeling angry and survivor's guilt. Why didn't my brother survive? Why didn't anybody? Why me?"