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Remembering the victims of Flight 255

Larry Jonas
Michigan Radio

Mourners gathered near Detroit Metro Airport Thursday to remember those who died on board Northwest flight 255.

In a small grove just off Interstate 94, a priest reads off the names of the names of 156 people who died her 25 years ago.

They were killed when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff on August 16th, 1987. One 4-year-old girl survived.

Those who lost loved ones that night have gathered for a memorial service every year since. The crowd swelled this year as they marked the 25th anniversary.

Father Jim Wieging was a Detroit Police chaplain on the scene that night. He says he’s watched the event change subtly over the years.

“They’ve normalized it in the sense that…tragedy is part of life. And they’ve gone on,” Wieging said. “And they still want to remember, but it’s not the painful remembering.”

Wieging and others say the yearly memorial service has helped survivors create a supportive, understanding extended family.

Susan Moy agrees. She lost her sister, Laura, her brother-in-law, and their one-year-old daughter in the crash.

“It’s good for us to gather, because it’s our family,” Moy said. “Whenever you have somebody that you can relate to in some experience, there’s always that support.”

Moy says attendance at the event has dropped off as years go by—but as long as she’s alive and able, she’ll be here to remember every August 16th.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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