Six members of the prominent Bramlage family of Kansas died Thursday when their small plane crashed in a swampy area of central Florida.
The Polk County Sheriff’s office said 45-year-old Ronald Bramlage was piloting the aircraft headed from the Bahamas to Junction City, Kan.
Also killed were Bramlage’s wife, Rebecca, and their four children.
Ron Bramlage is the grandson of the late Fred Bramlage, the namesake of Bramlage Coliseum at Kansas State University in Manhattan. The elder Bramlage made the principal donation for the construction of the arena, which is home to the K-State basketball teams. It was built for $17.2 million and opened in 1988.
The Bramlages’ single-turboprop, fixed wing plane broke apart and went down about 12:30 p.m. in the Tiger Creek Preserve, about 50 miles southwest of Orlando. The sheriff’s office said the family had stopped for customs in Fort Pierce, Fla., and had taken off a half-hour before the crash.
The 2006 Pilatus PC-12/47 was at about 26,000 feet when it began experiencing trouble, officials said. Deputies reached the area by helicopters but it was clear there were no survivors, the sheriff’s office said.
The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, but parts of the aircraft were found two miles from the crash site.
The bodies of the parents and children Brandon, Beau and Roxanne have been recovered, according to The Star’s reporting partner, KCTV5. Investigators believe 13-year-old Boston was sucked out of the plane, the station said. The search for his body is to resume Friday.
Ron Bramlage was the owner of Roadside Ventures LLC in Junction City. Becky Bramlage, 43, was president of the Junction City school board.
“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,” K-State President Kirk Schulz and Athletics Director John Currie said in a statement.
The school said that Ron and Becky Bramlage were K-State graduates — Ron in 1990 and Becky in 1991 and 1992.
Both were members of the K-State Alumni Association, President’s Club, Foundation Trustees and Ahearn Fund, the school said.
James A. Sands, vice mayor of Junction City, said the Bramlage family has been a huge influence. A library in the city is named for Ron Bramlage’s grandmother, Dorothy.
“I know Ron is very much into the city. He knows real estate and he tries to better the city any way he can,” he said. “My goodness. Just great wonderful people.”
Sands said the Bramlages once owned the loan on the building for a homeless shelter and “one day, Dorothy Bramlage just said, ‘Nah. It’s paid off. You don’t owe any more.’ ”
The school district superintendent, Ron Walker, said the Bramlages were heavily involved in the community, making this “a really great loss for Junction City.”