ROMULUS, Mich. (WJBK) - Wednesday, August 16, 2017 marks 30 years since the Flight 255 disaster in Romulus. Northwest Airlines Flight 255, headed for Phoenix, crashed shortly after takeoff from Detroit Metro Airport.
The 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 plane then crashed onto Middlebelt Road, just north of Wick Road.
The crash killed 156 people. All crew members were killed, and only one passenger survived -- a 4-year-old girl named Cecelia Cichan. Two motorists on Middlebelt were also killed.
The McDonnell Douglas MD80 left a half-mile trail of bodies, charred wreckage, magazines and trays of food along Middlebelt Road.
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.
A memorial event is Wednesday night at 8:46 p.m. -- approximately the same time as the crash -- at the Northwest Flight 255 memorial site on the embankment of Middlebelt Road at the entrance to Interstate 94 in Romulus.
The family of the sole survivor, now known as Cecelia Crocker, were among those killed. They lived in Tempe, Ariz., at the time.
She was raised in Alabama by her aunt and uncle who shielded her from the media and others who sought to delve into her unique past.
She broke her silence and spoke about her life and memories of the crash in a 2013 documentary, "Sole Survivor."
The Associated Press contributed to this report