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Vigil Held to Honor Michigan’s Deadliest Plane Crash

This week marked the 30th anniversary of the deadliest plane crash in Michigan history, WKAR’s Karel Vega reports.

A vigil was held this week at the site of the deadliest plane crash in Michigan history.


Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashed shortly after taking off from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport on August 16th, 1987. The crash killed 156 people including all six crew members.


56 year-old Tony Zanger is one of the organizers of the vigil.  Zanger lost his brother and his soon to be sister in-law in the crash.


“It’s about basically for us it means honoring and remembering our loved ones.” Says Zanger.


The annual vigil takes place at the site of the accident. A memorial built between Interstate 94 and Middlebelt Road in Romulus. Zanger says family members of the victims of the crash were instrumental in creating the monument.


“we raised the funds for much of the monument that we erected at the former crash site.” Zanger says.


Along with building a monument to honor those lost on Northwest Flight 255, the victim’s families helped in introducing a law to help other families affected by aviation disasters:


“Well we joined with other air crash family groups to help develop the aviation disaster family assistance act of 1996." Says Zanger. "Which guarantees more humane and organized systematic treatment of family members in the event of an air accident.”



Zanger says the vigil can be very therapeutic for the family members who attend:

“You know we’ve become extended family for each other I think because we shared a common bond. And you know we deal with this 365 days a year I mean we don’t grieve 365 days but it’s a part of our lives.”

The vigil concluded at 8:46 pm, The time of the original crash, with the reading of the victim’s names.


Four year-old Cecilia Cihan was the sole survivor of flight 255. Zanger says she has never attended the vigils.


As managing editor, Karel Vega supervises news reporters and hosts of news programming, and is responsible for the planning and editing of WKAR's news content.
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