Sole Survivor of 1987 Plane Crash Breaks Silence
Cecelia Crocker's parents, brother killed in Northwest Airlines tragedy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2013 2:34 PM CDT
Updated May 15, 2013 4:00 PM CDT
Cecelia Crocker shows an airplane tattoo on her left wrist in a September 2011 photo.   ((AP Photo/Sole Survivor Film))

(Newser) – Cecelia Crocker's body provides her with a constant reminder of the most traumatic event of her life—one that she doesn't otherwise remember. At only 4 years old, Crocker was the lone survivor of the 1987 Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crash that killed 154 people aboard, including Crocker's parents and brother, and two on the ground near Detroit Metropolitan Airport. In Sole Survivor, a new documentary focusing on Crocker and three other sole survivors of plane crashes, Crocker breaks her silence, discussing how the crash of the Phoenix-bound jetliner has affected her. "I think about the accident every day. It's kind of hard not to think about it when I look in the mirror," says the 30-year-old. "I have visual scars. My arms and my legs. And I have a scar on my forehead." She also sports an airplane tattoo on her left wrist.

Crocker says the enormity of what had happened didn't really hit her for a while. "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?'" But she still flies often: "Flying doesn't scare me. I have this mentality where if something bad happened to me once on a plane, it's not going to happen again," Crocker says. "The odds are just astronomical." (Another new documentary, Impact: After the Crash, revisits the nation's worst drunk driving accident, which killed 27 people, mostly children, in 1988.)

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
Plato
May 27, 2013 6:06 PM CDT
Here is a couple of interesting ones. 1995 Erika Delgado, nine, was the only survivor of Intercontinental Airlines plane which exploded in mid-air as it made an emergency landing near Bogata, Columbia. Delgado was thrown from the aircraft and landed on a mound of seaweed near a swamp, which broke her fall. 1985 George Lamson Jr, 17, survived after he was catapulted out of an exploding plane, somehow landing upright in the middle of the runway, still strapped to his seat. The aircraft, a Lockheed turboprop with 71 people on board, had just left Reno Cannon International airport.
HonkUSA
May 17, 2013 9:54 AM CDT
"I think about the accident every day. It's kind of hard not to think about it when I look in the mirror," And SO ! , she had this tattoo on her wrist , just to ensure that she didn't forget the stress !. DUH !.
Joe_Comments
May 15, 2013 9:56 PM CDT
I'm stricken by the apparent lack of compassion among many of the comments. Yes. I understand that many are correct about the statistical likelihood of surviving another plane crash. Yes. It's the same as anyone else, and is no higher because she has already survived a crash. I get that. Being the survivor myself of a 1 in 105,000 chance of survival event, I suspect her comments are based in the loneliness she experiences as a consequence of being the rare survivor of an event which is almost uniformly fatal. I know about that loneliness. 1 in 105,000 would be about 3,000 survivors if you ran every man, woman and child in the United States through the ringer I've been through. Since 320,000,000 people will never be run through the same ringer I've been through, the chances of my ever meeting someone who survived a similarly fatal event, is something I'll likely never know in my lifetime. Ordinarily, others might ask you to "walk a mile in their shoes." You couldn't possibly walk a mile in my shoes or hers. In the entire history of commercial aviation, there have been a total of 14 sole survivors. You have no clue how lonely that is. But see if you can find just a little compassion for those among us who aren't statistical experts, but at the same time, have an intimate understanding of life and death that you will never appreciate.