LAKE WALES, Fla. - A family vacation turned tragic when a plane piloted by Kansas philanthropist Ron Bramlage crashed Thursday afternoon in a Florida swamp near Tampa.
His wife and four children were on board. No one survived.
The plane was heading from the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas to Junction City, Kan. It stopped in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to clear customs before crashing in Lake Wales just after noon Central Time.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the plane began to break apart before it crashed. Pieces of the plane were found scattered two miles from the crash site.
Deputies said it was immediately clear there were no survivors when they arrived on the scene. They are still searching for the body of one of the children.
According to the flight tracking website Flight Aware, the plane was in the air just 32 minutes before it made a hard, sharp turn and lost altitude.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office also confirms the plane was at about 26 thousand feet when it started to experience trouble. You can see the flight’s intended route and flight path here: http://bit.ly/cev4wS.
Federal Aviation Records show the plane was just recently registered to a Bramlage family business on May 14. They left for the Bahamas on May 31.
Also, WFTV in Florida reports the plane was previously owned by one of Casey Anthony’s former attorneys. The plane was used to fly Anthony out of Orlando after she was released from jail following her trial for the death of her daughter.
In a statement, relatives said they are devastated by the news.
"They were an amazing family," Theresa Underwood said. "We are heartbroken."
Ron is the grandson of Fred Bramlage - the namesake for Bramlage Coliseum at Kansas State University.
University officials said they were shocked and saddened by the deaths.
“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,” they said in a statement.
Besides the K-State Coliseum, you can see the family's name on libraries and several other facilities in the Junction City and Manhattan area.
Bramlage and his wife, Becky, had four children - Brandon, Boston, Beau and Roxanne.
Becky was the president of the Junction City Board of Education. She was originally from Johnson County.
The family is no stranger to tragedy. Ron's uncle, Paul Bramlage, was killed in an attempted robbery in 1990.
*Earlier reports referred to Ron Bramlage as the son of Fred Bramlage. He was Fred's grandson.
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