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Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014

NTSB: Fuel emergency led to fatal Clearwater plane crash


Published:   |   Updated: March 27, 2014 at 09:38 AM

The pilot in a fatal plane crash last week in Clearwater reported a fuel emergency and attempted a forced landing before clipping power lines and nose-diving onto the roadway, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Jeffrey Bronken, 53, his daughter Katherine, and her friend Keyana Linbo — both 15 — were on an overnight spring break trip from Chicago to Clearwater on Saturday.

Jeffrey Bronken died at the scene, and Katherine died Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa as a result of her injuries. Linbo remains hospitalized in stable condition, Pinellas County deputies say.

According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration, Bronken was in radio and radar contact with air traffic control as it approached St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport when he reported the fuel emergency.

About 4 a.m., the NTSB report says Bronken — operating a Piper PA-28-191 — struck power lines on McMullen-Booth Road, about six miles north of the airport.

The plane, which had departed John C. Tune Airport in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday night at 11:38 p.m., then nose-dived into a median on McMullen Booth Road, near Union Street, the report said.

The report says the plane’s engine and cockpit area were crushed. The cabin roof also had separated, and had an impact mark about the same size as an aluminum power line that had separated during the impact, causing a power outage in the area.

The plane came to rest upright, nose-down, and pointing in a southerly direction beneath the power lines, the report said.

The left main fuel tank remained intact, and an FAA inspector recovered about four ounces of fuel after seeing drops coming from the right tank, the report said. The fuel selector was found positioned to the left main fuel tank.

Bronken had a private pilot certificate and had logged 1,549 flight hours, the report said.

A handheld GPS unit was recovered, and will be examined for further evidence, the report said.

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