Glendale man remembers flight he didn't board, others died in 1987 crash of Northwest Flight 255

PHOENIX - A Glendale man said he had a ticket for Northwest Flight 255, but was turned away at the ticket-counter because the flight was overbooked.

The flight from Detroit to Phoenix, crashed seconds after takeoff killing everyone on board except a four-year-old girl on August 16, 1987.

"Someone was looking out for me," Shawn Zeman told ABC15.

Zeman, who was 12-years-old at the time, was supposed to fly back to his mother's home in Arizona after staying with his father in Michigan.

"I think about it every time I fly," he said.

Meanwhile, the only person who survived the plane crash said she thinks about the wreck every day.

Cecelia Cichan discussed the crash for "Sole Survivor," an upcoming documentary featuring stories of plane crash survivors.

"I think about the accident every day. It's kind of hard not to think about it when I look in the mirror," she said in a clip from the film that was broadcast by WDIV-TV in Detroit.

An image shows Cichan with a tattoo of an airplane on her wrist.

Thursday marks 25 years since the crash that killed 154 people on board. Two people also died on the ground.

The Phoenix-bound plane was just clearing the runway at 8:46 p.m. when it tilted slightly. The left wing clipped a light pole, and the damaged airliner sheared the top off a rental car building. The McDonnell Douglas MD80 left a half-mile trail of bodies, charred wreckage, magazines and trays of food along Middle Belt Road when it crashed on Aug. 16, 1987.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded the plane's crew failed to set the wing flaps properly for takeoff. The agency also said a cockpit warning system did not alert the crew to the problem.

Cichan was four at the time. Her parents and brother were killed. She is now married, and her name is Cecelia Crocker.

A memorial event is scheduled for Thursday in Romulus, The Detroit News reported.

Romulus Fire Lt. John Thiede, who played an important role in removing Cichan from the wreckage so she could receive medical attention for the severe burns she suffered, has kept in touch with her, talking on the phone and meeting in person on Cichan's wedding day.

"To see her come down the aisle, I came to tears," he told WDIV.

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