36 years ago: Northwest Flight 255 crashes after takeoff at Detroit Metro Airport, killing 156

  • Source: WXYZ-TV ABC 7 Detroit
  • Published: 08/16/2023 12:00 AM

VIDEO: Wednesday marks 35 years since the deadliest plane crash in Michigan history. On August 16, 1987, Northwest Flight 255 took off from Romulus headed for Arizona — it didn’t make it far. Investigators blame a number of pilot errors on the crash, but the most important takeaway is the lives lost: 156 people were killed that day, all but one person on board and two people who were in vehicles near I-94 and Middlebelt Road. The firefighters who arrived that night had no idea what lay ahead. The initial call for a plane crash shed little light on the fact that it was a passenger plane — Lt. John Thiede, of the Romulus Fire Department, explained his rescue efforts to 7 Action News in 2013. He explained that he and another firefighter had heard a faint moan, or cry, and were trying to locate where it was coming from.


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