By Benjamin Joe
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the North Tonawanda History Museum, Karen Wielinski will present her experience in 2009 when a Continental Airlines passenger flight crashed into her home in Clarence, killing 50 passengers and her husband who was in another room of the house.
For Wielinski, the experience of writing about what she and her family lost was key to her own journey after the tragedy.
Called “The Crash of Flight 3407,” the presentation takes on a survivor’s tale of heartache and acceptance, as well as anger for the early demise of her husband, Doug. Wielinski chronicles these emotions in her memoir “One on the Ground,” parts of which she’ll share with the attendees at the event.
“It’s grief,” Wielinski said of what she put into her writing. “And then survival.”
The first section of the book takes on the very first year after the tragedy, month by month. It’s not till much later that Wielinski had the courage to join with the other families of Flight 3407. It’s their stories Wielinski embraces in the second section of her book.
The third part of the book chronicles what Wielinski calls one of the hardest parts of her life: the trial to bring Continental Airlines to justice for unsafe air-safety. All of this, she said, could never have happened if it wasn’t for the encouragement she received after the crash.
“I moved to East Aurora in 2010 and, after that, joined a writing group,” Wielinski said. “I credit that with getting the juices flowing.”
Wielinski said that Rick Ohler started the group and was very encouraging to the writers, often giving prompts to tackle.
“That really worked for me,” she said. “It got me writing.”
More encouragement was to come when Eric Brady, formerly of USA Today, called her in 2011. He wanted to do a story on her husband, something Wielinski was more than happy to help with. She said that Brady was also very encouraging and between him and the writing group, she got the strength to write, what many would call, a very personal and emotional memoir.
“(Writing is) cathartic for me,” she said. “It helped. … It keeps my husband’s spirit alive.”
“One on the Ground” will be on sale before and after the presentation at 712 Oliver St., North Tonawanda.