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Shadow box for Vegas veteran who died in car crash found at California swap meet, returned to family

Possessions discovered, returned by then-stranger and fellow Navy Seal
Posted at 1:34 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 16:37:52-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 38-year-old Will Bushelle excelled during his time as a Navy Seal.

His dad, who lives in Florida, says Will enlisted in the Navy right out of high school.

"He said he wasn't ready for college. That was a little disappointing for us, but he more than made up for it. As you might know, we are very proud of him," said Bill Bushelle, holding back tears.

Will lost his life in a car crash in 2014.

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38-year-old Will Bushelle. (Courtesy: Bill Bushelle)

It happened at Durango Drive and Washburn Road in northwest Las Vegas.

Born in St Louis, he moved to the valley in 2004.

"Even though Will is gone, he continues to influence our lives and help us make friendships," said Bill.

The latest friendship stems from a shadow box up for sale during the last weekend of March at a swap meet in Huntington Beach, California.

Inside, the combat uniform and medals that were once worn by Will.

"I saw the shadow box and my heart just dropped," said Fernando Gonzalez. Like Will, he's also a Navy veteran.

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A shadow box with the combat uniform and medals once worn by Will Bushelle. (Courtesy: Fernando Gonzalez)

"We usually go to the swap meet on the weekends for my hobby because I collect bobbleheads," said Fernando of trips with his wife, Irma. "It just stopped me in my track when I seen it."

Fernando didn't hesitate. He bought the shadow box for $150 even though he had no clue who Will was — but he knew he had a mission.

Fernando and Irma spent the next few hours looking for Will's family before finding them on Facebook.

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Fernando Gonzalez and his wife, Irma. (Courtesy: Fernando Gonzalez)

"I can't even explain the happiness that I got," said Fernando recalling the moment when he finally reached Will's family.

"We got on the phone with both of them and they are just lovely people, and they were so excited and we were so excited," he added.

Will's dad says he gave the uniform to a friend of Will's after the car accident. He's not sure how the shadow box found its way to the swap meet, but he's glad by some miracle it found its way to Fernando.

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Will Buschelle (center) and his parents. (Courtesy: Bill Buschelle)

"It reminds us that people who served are a brotherhood and they look after each other," said Bill.

The shadow box is being shipped right now and should get to Will's family by the end of the week.

Fernando refuses to accept any money for reimbursement, saying he just wants to honor Will's service to our country.

There is a scholarship in Will Buschelle's name at his alma mater, Southern Illinois University. Learn more at siuf.org/engineering.

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