A woman "thought she was dead" when a plane flew straight into her house, after the last major US commercial airline accident, that killed all 49 people on board, plus her husband.
On this day in 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3407 was approaching Buffalo-Niagara International Airport from from Newark, New Jersey, when the plane experienced an aerodynamic stall (sudden loss of lift) and dove into a house.
All 49 people aboard and one man in the house, in Buffalo, were killed. That one was Doug Wielinski, Karen Wielinski's husband.
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Karen and her daughter Jill managed to escape the carnage through a minor miracle, but Doug was killed because he went to bed in a room that bore the brunt of the impact. The family's cat was also killed.
“You know, I think I really wondered if I had died, too – I mean, I wasn’t even sure I was still alive,” Karen told WXXI News on this day in 2019.
Karen was in her home on Long Street in Clarence Center near Buffalo, New York, when she heard a "weird" noise.
She said she thought to herself that if it was a plane it could hit something.
“Immediately after that thought came into my mind, everything came crashing down,” Wielinski recalled in a chat with Cincinnati.com.
“My first thought was, oh my gosh, am I dead? Oh my gosh, it hit our house, it hit us.”
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Wielinski was still sitting on the couch when the plane hit but she managed to move something obstructing her and crawl to safety.
She heard a scream and hoped it was Jill before crawling out of a hole and turning to look back at the remains of her home.
“I still don’t know why I didn’t go berserk. The minute I saw the tail with this emblem, I thought this is no little plane,” she said. “Then I just turned around and there was Jill standing there crying; she was just so close.”
She said she knew her husband wasn't going to make it due to the devastation in that area of the house. Their three other daughters, Kim, Lori and Jessica weren't home at the time.
Media reports, Karen said, seemed to always leave Doug's name out, instead referring to him as “one on the ground.” She released a book about the ordeal, calling it One on the Ground.
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