NTSB Begins Investigation into Small Plane Crash, as Search Efforts Continue
As the National Transportation Safety Board begins its investigation in the fatal small plane crash in Polk County which claimed the lives of a Kansas family of six, authorities are continuing to search for one of the missing children.
The Bramlage family – father and pilot, 45-year-old Ronald Bramlage, his wife, Rebecca Bramlage and their four children – Brandon, 15, Boston 13, Beau, 11, and Roxanne, 8, were returning from a family vacation in the Bahamas, when the single-turboprop, fixed wing aircraft went down around 12:30 p.m., in a swampy and remote area of southeast Polk County.
Yesterday rescurers, who reached the crash site in the Tiger Creek Preserve by helicopter, recovered the parents and three children, but are still searching for Boston.
“Our search and recovery efforts are underway—our Sheriff’s Office members and our partner agencies are working hard to complete a thorough search of the area,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Friday morning.
Investigators while still trying to determine the cause of the crash, confirm that the 2006 Pilatus PC-12/47 aircraft began to break apart before it crashed. It is believed that Boston was sucked out of the plane as it was going down.
“We know the child’s not in the aircraft,” Judd said. “We know there was a gaping hole in the aircraft. We are treating this effort like we are searching for a member of our own family.” He said the search will continue until the child is found.
Deputies said, the aircraft had taken off from Treasure Cay Airport in the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas and had stopped in Fort Pierce to clear customs. Shortly after 12:00 noon the aircraft left the St. Lucie County International Airport en route to Junction City, Kansas, where the Bramlage lived.
Investigators said, parts of the aircraft have been located between 3 and four miles from the crash site. Investigators also said, there was a rupture in the cabini area of the plane while it was in the air, causing it to break appart before it crashed.
The aircraft was traveling at about 26,000 feet when it first began experiencing trouble.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Authority are conducting investigations into the cause of the crash. Separate investigations are also being conducted by the aircraft manufacturer and the engine manufacturer.
The Bramlages were a prominent and well known family in Kansas with the Bramlage Collisum at Kansas State University named after Ronald’s grandfather, Fred Bramlage, according to news reports.
“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,’ University President Kirk Schulz and Athletics Director John Currie said in a joint statement.
“This is a tragic and painful investigation. Our heart-felt sympathies go out to the family and friends of the Bramlage family,” Sheriff Grady Judd said Friday.