Here is the audio from the cockpits CVR click
The story of Cecelia is nothing short of amazing, 3 years old, sole survivor of a great tragedy. Looking at scenes from the accident you cant but think it had to be an act beyond human. Here are photos, its a slide show. Everyone knows what the yellow tarps mean, one of the Dr's in charge of the makeshift morgue said no bone was intact.
She was adopted by her Aunt and Uncle in Alabama and they kept her from publicity. In her 20's now, college grad, married and a Psychologist. From what I understand she has never been to the memorial, but she does sign into the guestbook and leave a note every anniversary.
The more I looked into this tragedy, the harder it becomes to grasp. I think I always see what has happened on the exterior. The yellow tarps, twisted metal, suitcases and list of names tragically lost. Behind all that are families torn apart and in some cases families completely lost. Cecelia had to start her life over again without knowing her parents or her older brother, the miracle baby whom lost everything. The entire Best family from Mesa was lost, Father, Mother and their 3 children. The Byelich family from Chandler and two branches of the Geiger family, one from Phoenix and one from Gilbert, all died on the plane. It wasn't until I read the name Justin Keener did I really understand loss. His story was shadowed by Cecelia's, not that it was a miracle, but to me it was the greatest loss. Being a parent its hard to think of what you would do in that situation, the moments before death. One one NWA flight the stewardess explained to the mother of a baby that in case of an emergency she is to put her son onto the floor and hold him there. Could you? Planes are not meant to crash, in fact there is nothing safe about them, except if they take off and land, then it did what it was meant to. In those final moments of flight I dont think my children would be anywhere but held tightly. I fly alone for work and have come to the realization that if something did go wrong I could only sit it out, hope that they know I love them. The most tragic part of falling to your death would be seeing the fear in their eyes, them looking to you to save them, something you have no control over. Alaska Airlines flight 261 dropped from 30,000 feet to 24,000 feet when a horizontal "jackscrew" stabilizer failed. The passengers on board had to feel relief when the pilots leveled the plane out, but a few minutes later their fate was decided. The Mcdonald-Douglas MD-83 went into a vertical roll and dropped 24,000 feet into the ocean, no one knows what they did their last few moments. Justin Keener was 12 years old and flying alone on Flight 255. He was visiting his Aunt and Uncle in Michigan, this was his first ever flight alone. His parents were not aware they plane had crashed, untill they arrived at the airport to pick him up.
Here is an excerpt written on Justin:
Robin Spotleson still cries when she talks of her son.
She also tries to think of what he would be like as a grown man.
"He was just a sweet boy, kind of quiet," she remembers. "He was very kind. Very loving."
She and her husband, Justin's stepfather, arrived at the airport unaware the plane had crashed. She was surprised to hear her husband being paged when they walked into Sky Harbor but presumed it was to tell them that the plane would either be late or early.
She continued toward the gate while he went to hear the message.
When she arrived at security to walk through, she said that it was very quiet and that people stepped back when a policeman approached her.
"The policeman walked up to me and touched my arm, I remember that," she said. "He started walking me. I remember a door opening, and there were people crying and grabbing at me."
Spotleson has managed to get through the hard times, in part, because she and her husband had a daughter five years later. Her faith also tells her that she will see her son again.
"Twenty years is a long time," she said. "Justin would be 32 now. But it still hurts, I still think of him every day."
The doomed flight lasted only about 19 seconds, but Spotleson cannot bear the thought that Justin was alone during those terrifying moments.
After the crash, she learned that man sitting next to her son was a father flying without his children.
"In my heart, I believe he was holding on to my son," she said. "I have to believe that."
My knowledge of Justin is minimal, what I know is what you know, yet the story still makes my stomach turn and eyes burn. It's impossible to think what could have happened for those brief seconds, what unfolded, what he thought. I dont know how his parents dealt with the situation. I would have to know everything, I would have to see.
After writing this I decided to look into my upcoming flight this Sunday the 19th. For the first time ever I will be flying on a NWA Mcdonald-Douglas DC9-50.
A list of those lost click