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Officials find body of teen killed in Polk plane crash

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 05:07 PM
TAMPA -

Officials found the body of a Kansas teenager on Friday, a day after his family died in a Lake Wales plane crash.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials found a body they believe is 13-year-old Boston Bramlage. He was recovered about 2:20 p.m. in thick brush, slightly less than a half-mile from the crash site.

"Our searchers today searched for the child as if it had been their own child and remained here until he was found," Judd said.

"It was very important for us to reunite this family for their sakes, and for the sakes of other family members," Judd said.

The bodies of pilot Rob Bramlage, a Kansas businessman, his wife and three of their four children were found at the crash site.

Boston Bramlage wasn't in the plane when it crashed, Judd said.

"He was thrown from the aircraft while it was coming to the ground," Judd said.

A large part of the right wing snapped off as the plane was coming down and caused a large hole in an area near a seat, Judd said.

Boston Bramlage was catapulted from the plane.

More than 100 people searched for the boy's remains Friday.

"It was an exceptionally quick recovery when you consider how vast the area," Judd said.

The bodies of everyone on the plane have been recovered, although positive identifications haven't been made on all family members, Judd said.

Relatives of the victims traveled to Polk County, and Judd planned to meet with them Friday afternoon.

"They are absolutely, totally devastated," Judd said. "I can't imagine receiving that phone call."

Family members watched the news on Thursday and recognized the airplane's identification number.

"I just don't know how you can handle that," Judd said. "You've lost your son, your daughter-in-law, all of your children."

Rob Bramlage radioed that he had an emergency shortly before the single-engine turboprop plane broke into pieces and went down Thursday afternoon in swampy Tiger Creek Preserve.

The plane, a 2006 Pilatus PC-12/47, was at an estimated altitude of 21,500 feet when it began having problems, said Tim Monville, a senior air safety investigator in Miami with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Monville said the pilot didn't specify the nature of the emergency.

The aircraft dropped from radar and lost communications with controllers in Miami shortly before it went down about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Monville said.

Monville said it was too early to determine if weather was a factor.

Heavy rain has pounded the region for several days. Monville said he was waiting on data from weather and air traffic experts in Washington, D.C.

"The main goal is to determine what happened and why," he said, adding that the investigation could take up to a year.

Judd said the debris field stretches at least four miles. Portions of the left wing, about six feet of the right wing and the horizontal stabilizer were some distance away from the site, Monville said.

A fire also broke out after the crash, he said.

The crash site is in a remote, wooded and uninhabited area of southeast Polk County. It is reachable only by helicopter and all-terrain vehicles.

The sheriff's office is handling the investigation into the deaths, while the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration will look into the crash.

The Bramlages were flying to Grand Junction, Kan., from the Bahamas when problems with the plane arose. The aircraft had taken off Thursday morning from Treasure Cay Airport in the Abaco Islands and stopped for customs in Fort Pierce.

It departed from Fort Pierce at 12:05 p.m. and crashed about a half-hour later.

Records showed the plane was carrying Bramlage,45, his wife, Rebecca, 43, as well as their four children, Brandon, 15; Boston, 13; Beau, 11; and 8-year-old Roxanne. Witnesses in the Bahamas and Fort Piece accounted for all four children on the aircraft, Judd said.

"It is a tragic event of monumental proportions," Judd said.

"Our heart breaks," Judd said. "You have no idea what it is like to see a mother, a father and a group of beautiful children deceased in an aircraft. And it's fortunately something a majority of the world will never see."

The Bramlages were well known in their hometown, where they supported many local projects and provided college scholarships. The arena at nearby Kansas State University is named for Ron Bramlage's grandfather. A library in the city is named for Ron Bramlage's grandmother.


Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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