One of the passengers on Northwest Airlines Flight 255, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Airport Sunday night, seemed to have a premonition of the tragedy and told a friend and fellow passenger about it.

Tom Barberio, a 24-year-old Arizona State University senior from Lansing, Mich., told his best friend just minutes before the two left for the airport: "I don't want to go on this trip. I'm afraid of it. I just don't want to fly. I'm afraid this plane will crash."

He and the person he told, Pat Tallerico, were among at least 156 passengers killed when the popular evening flight, bound for Phoenix, crashed into a highway.

Tallerico's mother, Geraldine, recalled the conversation yesterday and remembered her son had responded with a shrug and said, "Hey, we'll be all right."

The two young men, friends since junior high school days when they played basketball together, were on their way to Phoenix, and then planned to drive to Los Angeles to visit Barberio's girlfriend and brother.

They had decided to drive the second leg of the trip because recent reports on air traffic had made both apprehensive about flying.

Barberio had a history of being afraid of flying, but Tallerico did not, his mother said. She had cooked her son's favorite spaghetti dinner for him before he left. He played basketball, then packed, she said.

While he was packing, Tallerico asked his mother, "Mom, should I make out my will?" She said she had replied, "I just don't know, Pat."

"I only wish I could have done something to stop them," she said. "Tom always had a smile on his face, but he looked worried. I'm glad, though, when it happened he was with his friend. He had somebody."

Barberio's father, Fred, dropped the two off at the airport and said the young men made sure they were assigned to seats next to each other.

"Before Tom got on a plane, normally he shook my hand," Barberio said. "But this time he held me like he didn't want to let me go. He was nervous and scared and he had had an upset stomach all day. I had told him to drink ginger ale.

"I watched them until they went up the ramp," Barberio said. "There wasn't too much confusion. It seemed like a normal situation. There was a guy standing behind them. I later found out he was Nick Vanos of the Phoenix Suns. I asked him how tall he was and he said 7-foot-2.

"When I left the airport, it was 8:32 {p.m.}. I looked at my watch," Barberio said of the start of the 90-mile trip home to Lansing, Mich. "I usually take I-94, but this time for some reason I went another way."

The plane hit a railroad trestle and two of the interstate's overpasses.

"My wife and I were on the way home when we heard on the radio that there was a plane coming from Phoenix that crashed. I said, 'Thank God we got the boys off safe.' We were 30 miles from home when we heard it was Flight 255."

Rafael and Lisa Tombasco, married just 10 months, were "the perfect couple," said Rafael's brother, Sebastian, from the family home in Corning, N.Y.

"That's why it's so sad," said Tombasco, who introduced the two to each other five years ago. "They were the happiest couple I've seen in my whole life. That's what makes everything so sad.

"My brother was on top of the world," he said, choking back tears. "I think God said, 'This guy is too happy. We need him up here to cheer up things.' "

Rafael, 34, was a district manager for Kendall Oil, and Lisa, 26, was a registered nurse for a Beverly Hills hospital. The couple had returned to Corning from Laguna Hills, Calif., to visit relatives before leaving for Buffalo to attend a wedding on Sunday.

They were returning to California from the wedding Sunday evening.

"Detroit was a secondary stopover because the Chicago airport was flooded," Tombasco said. "They were diverted to Detroit: Isn't that something? But I've been telling my family, it didn't matter. The good Lord wanted him. He was a great guy."

The Tombascos learned of the plane crash after someone from Northwest Airlines called at 3 a.m. Monday. "It's something that only happens on television," said Tombasco. "They had just bought a house. They were going to spend three or four years in California. Then they were coming back to live near family.

In Sterling Heights, Mich., Patricia Dresch and her children said goodbye to her husband and their father, Lewis Dresch.

"Now that we've talked about it, my children and I think there was a strangeness to the day," Dresch said. Lewis Dresch, a mechanical engineer, was one of 14 General Motors employes killed in the crash.

"He said goodbye several times," his wife said. "He drove himself to the airport. He liked to go early because of traffic, and it looked stormy that night. Even though the flight was for 8:45, he left at 6 {p.m.}. He was going to meet some of his old friends from Harrison Radiator, who were going on this trip. They probably had a lot to talk about."

Dresch, a 45-year-old Vietnam veteran, had worked for Harrison for 17 years before going to work for Chevrolet Pontiac of Canada, which is a division of General Motors, where he test-drove new cars. The couple would have celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary Aug. 29. They have two teen-age children.

"This trip was scheduled in July, but the cars weren't ready, so it was rescheduled," Dresch said. "He's been making trips like this for about 20 years.

Another General Motors employe, Gary Kimmel, 35, of Fenton, Mich., said goodbye to his wife and 3 1/2-month-old son, hopped into his Plymouth, drove to a friend's house, parked and took a taxi to the airport.

"He was to have been gone for two weeks," said his mother-in-law, Wenona Schimpf.

"He didn't like flying at all," Schimpf said, "but it was part of the job."Staff writer Kuae Noel Kelch contributed to this report.