updated 07/15/2014 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/15/2014 AT 6:45 PM ET
Melissa “Missy” Trahan was just 16 months old when she was rescued from the rubble of Pan Am Flight 759 in Kenner, Louisiana, on July 9, 1982.
The crash killed all 146 other people aboard the plane, as well as eight Kenner residents, including Trahan’s mother and 4-year-old sister. Trahan, dubbed the “Miracle Baby of Pan Am Flight 759,” was the sole survivor of the crash, sustaining no serious injuries.
Thirty-two years later, Trahan, now 33, is a wife and mother who has learned to cope with unbelievable loss.
“I was so fortunate to be surrounded by a loving family, including my grandparents from both sides,” she told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in an interview highlighting the anniversary of the tragedy.
After the crash, Trahan and her father, who was working when the plane hit, moved away from Kenner to be closer to family.
Trahan graduated from Louisiana State University with a major in theater production and moved to Orlando, Florida, where she worked at Disney Studios. Eventually, she moved back to New Orleans and married Joe Ferrara, whom she called the “boy next door” in the Times-Picayune story.
In 2010, the couple welcomed a daughter, Melanie – naming their baby girl after Trahan’s late mother.
“Her spirit lives inside of me, and so does my sister’s,” she said of her mom in an interview with local station WWLTV marking the 20th anniversary of the crash.