CLARENCE, NY (WKBW) — It's been ten years since the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence Center. A widow is taking a big step forward in her healing process.
Karen Wielinski has been holding on to her late husband's sports collection inside a storage unit.
Doug Wielinski died when the plane crashed into their home in 2009 and now a decade later -- she's ready to pass the collection on to another sports fan.
“You can see they've been boxed up fairly organized,” explained Timothy Mroczek, Stosh Collectibles.
Inside two storage units in Clarence Mroczek of Buffalo showed boxes and boxes of what he calls a very “cool mixture” of collectibles that he bought from Karen Wielinski.
“Doug had a great sense of collection and a lot of it is Buffalo related items,” Mroczek noted.
After a decade of keeping this treasure chest of buffalo collectibles, Wielinski says she felt it was time to let go and sell it to someone who has the same passion her husband had for collecting items.
“There’s still an odor about some of this stuff. Doug's friend, Jim Macey, says it's some jet fuel too - but you have the cleaning fluids - dryer sheets smell and you know - every time I come in here, I smell that too and I want to be done with that - I really do,” Wielinski remarked.
Originally there were five shortage units filled with items from the Wielinski's Long Street home. One containing destroyed items held for evidence during the crash investigation. But amazingly this massive collection was not destroyed.
“The hunt for some of the things I saw in there over the last ten years – was quite overwhelming in itself and when you finally came across those items – especially like personal items. It was always a real joy to find something that wasn't a collectible,” Wielinski recalls.
However, Wielinski noted items in the storage units "represent only part of Doug's collection. She said there were many items destroyed in the home and during the trial evidence was presented to support that claim. She stated "a good deal of what was origiinally in the storage unit of destroyed items was made up of collectibles."
Wielinski says most heartwarming where tape recordings of every bills game Doug’s brother recorded to send to Doug when he was serving in Vietnam in 1970.
“I actually found those tapes – see I’m getting goose bumps just talking about that – and there was a tape of Doug that he had sent from Vietnam,” Wielinski said.
“Absolutely we'll respect the contents and it's very obviously sensitive to go through it,” Mroczek.
From sports cards to a baseball bat and clubs from the early 1900's and a lot of bobble heads, Mroczek says he's going to first enjoy the items and eventually sell some.
As Wielinski let go she says there was a sign from Doug that it was okay. While Mroczek was taking a rubber band off some sports cards one landed on the ground in the shape of a heart.
“And I’m a believer of ‘God winks’ – and little messages from the beyond and to me that was my clue that Doug saying it's okay – this was a good thing you did,” Wielinski responded.
“Even after I picked up it never reformed that position—so it was really special. It brought a tear to my eye,” Mroczek replied.