Authorities say a Kansas businessman, his wife and their four children were killed when their single-engine plane crashed into a swampy area of central Florida.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says the plane went down about 12:30 p.m. Thursday in Tiger Creek Preserve in Lake Wales, Fla.
A news release says 45-year-old Ronald Bramlage was piloting the plane headed from the Bahamas to Junction City. It had stopped for customs in Fort Pierce, Fla., and had taken off a half-hour before the crash.
The Ledger of Lakeland identifies the other victims as Rebecca Bramlage, 43, and the couple’s children, Brandon, Boston, Beau and Roxanne. Two of the children were teenagers, one was 12 and one was 7.
The sheriff’s office says the 12-seat Pilatus PC-12 single-turboprop broke apart and crashed. When deputies reached the area by helicopter, it was clear no one had survived.
The Ledger reports that the group was heading home to Kansas from the Bahamas. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, but parts of the plane were found two miles from the crash site, which is only reachable by all-terrain vehicles.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told the Ledger that the plane began experiencing trouble while flying at an altitude of 26,000 feet and appeared to have lost parts before crashing. He said nearby residents told investigators they saw the plane tumbling before it hit the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, Judd said.
Television station WTSP in Tampa reports that it took crews over an hour to reach the plane because of the lack of accessibility to the area.
Rob Bramlage is the grandson of Fred Bramlage, the namesake of Kansas State’s basketball arena. Becky Bramlage was the president of the Junction City school board.
Kansas State issued a statement from university president Kirk Schulz and athletics director John Currie.
“We are shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the deaths of Ron and Becky Bramlage and their children today,” the statement read. “The Bramlage family holds a special place in the history of Kansas State University and K-State Athletics, and Ron and Becky have been loyal supporters and great fans of K-State. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bramlage family during this difficult time.”