Since she was 4 years old, I don't think she was a lap child, though. I was always under the impression that she had been sitting next to her mother, but the mother had enough warning that something was going wrong and had time to to grab her and sheild her with her body.
I read something somewhere that one other contributing factor to the crash was that the pilots were in a hurry. Apparently the plane was already late and after making it's scheduled stop in PHX, it was supposed to go on to SNA which had a curfew. Not sure if that is correct, though.
I guess no one ever mentions them because they weren't from the plane, but rather in some of the cars that hit when the plane went down. This is an abstract from the NTSB website regarding the incident:
About 2046 eastern daylight time on August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines, Inc., flight 255 crashed shortly after taking off from runway 3 center at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan. Flight 255, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82, U.S. Registry N312RC, was a regularly scheduled passenger flight and was en route to Phoenix, Arizona, with 149 passengers and 6 crewmembers.
According to witnesses, flight 255 began its takeoff rotation about 1,200 to 1,500 feet from the end of the runway and lifted off near the end of the runway.
After liftoff, the wings of the airplane rolled to the left and the right about 35 degrees in each direction. The airplane collided with obstacles northeast of the runway when the left wing struck a light pole located 2,760 feet beyond the end of the runway.
Thereafter the airplane struck other light poles, the roof of a rental car facility, and then the ground. It continued to slide along a path aligned generally with the extended centerline of the takeoff runway. The airplane broke up as it slid across the ground and postimpact fires erupted along the wreckage path.
Three occupied vehicles on a road adjacent to the airport and numerous vacant vehicles in a rental car parking lot along the airplane's path were destroyed by impact forces and/or fire.
Of the persons on board flight 255, 148 passengers and 6 crewmembers were killed; 1 passenger, a 4-year-old child, was injured seriously. On the ground, two persons were killed, one person was injured seriously, and four persons suffered minor injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flightcrew's failure to use the taxi checklist to ens
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flightcrew's failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure that the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the absence of electrical power to the airplane takeoff warning system which thus did not warn the flightcrew that the airplane was not configured properly for takeoff. The reason for the absence of electrical power could not be determined.