LAKE WALES, Fla. -- A small plane carrying six members of a prominent Kansas family crashed in the woods of central Florida not long after taking off on Thursday, killing everybody on board.
A spokesman for the family says the victims are Ron and Becky Bramlage and their four children. They own an investment company in Junction City, and Mrs. Bramlage is the president of the local school board.
They come from a family in Kansas known for giving scholarships and other large charitable donations, including funds for the Kansas State University basketball arena -- Bramlage Coliseum.
"Anyone who knew them -- just are going to have a loss in this community as well as others," said Deborah Johnston, neighbor of the Bramlages.
The FOX station in Tampa Bay took pictures from its helicopter of the silver single-engine Pilatus PC-12 aircraft in the middle of a remote wooded area, sitting in several pieces.
Johnston says the family had been vacationing in the Bahamas and were scheduled to arrive at Freeman Field Airport in Junction City at about 4 p.m. Thursday.
Flight-tracking website FlightAware.com showed the plane had taken off from St. Lucie County International Airport in Florida just after noon and was headed for Kansas. But not long into the flight, the site shows, the plane veered off its flight plan.
According to investigators at the scene, the aircraft was at nearly 26,000 feet when it first began experiencing trouble, and it appears that the plane fell apart in the air. Pieces of the aircraft were found as far as two miles away from the crash site.
The FAA database shows the plane is registered to Roadside Ventures out of Junction City, Kansas, about 130 miles west of Kansas City on Interstate 70.
Coincidentally, records show that the plane was once owned by the attorney for Casey Anthony, who was accused -- and later acquitted -- of killing her own child, and was used to fly her out of Florida after her trial.
On Thursday afternoon, Kansas State University president Dr. Kirk Shulz and athletic director John Currie released the following statement:
“We are shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the deaths of Ron and Becky Bramlage and their children today. 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.”
Ron (1990) and Becky (1991 and 1992) were both graduates of Kansas State University. They were both members of the K-State Alumni Association, President’s Club, Foundation Trustees and Ahearn Fund. Ron was the grandson of the late Fred Bramlage, a 1935 graduate of K-State and Junction City businessman. Fred Bramlage was the lead contributor to the construction of Bramlage Coliseum, a multi-purpose arena that opened in 1988 and is home to the K-State men’s and women’s basketball teams."