A sadly fascinating story came to an end Thursday in Buffalo, New York, where the family of an advanced baseball card and memorabilia collector killed when a commercial plane crashed into their home in 2009, reached a settlement with the airline.
Doug Wielinski died Tonawanda, NY on Feb. 12, 2009 when the Pinnacle Airlines turboprop crashed five miles short of the runway, slamming into the house where he was working on his collection. All 49 people aboard the plane were also killed. Numerous lawsuits against Pinnacle and its parent company, Continental Airlines were filed by victims’ families but Wielinski’s case was unique and the only one that reached the trial stage.
Wielinski died and much of what family and friends say was an advanced collection of rare, vintage sports cards and memorabilia was destroyed in the resulting fire.
Wielinski’s widow, Karen and her daughters were seeking compensatory damages for her 60-year-old husband’s wrongful death, his pain and suffering as well as the family’s injuries, pain and suffering. The trial came to a halt Thursday when attorneys for the family and the airline reached an undisclosed financial settlement.
Josh Evans, Chairman of Lelands, testified this week that the value of Doug Wielinski’s collection was between $2 million and $2.4 million at the time of the crash, based on prior testimony , a box filled with charred remains of the collection and a list of items compiled by one of Doug Wielinski’s friends who were familiar with what he owned.
A story in the Buffalo News, which has covered the seven-week trial, indicated the family claimed Wielinski owned ten original 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards among numerous other rare pieces he had acquired during a decades-long collecting habit that also included Civil War and pop culture memorabilia.
According to the newspaper story, Wielinski also owned a rare Mantle store model glove and box and a newly discovered hoard of 1930s Buffalo Bisons puzzles.
The settlement amount was ‘unprecedented in the state of New York’ according to one of the family attorneys quoted in this follow-up story which included family reaction.