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NTSB releases report on Bramlage family plane crash

By Jelani Yancey

A preliminary report on the June 7 plane crash near Lake Wales, Fla., that killed six members of the Ron Bramlage family of Junction City doesn’t identify a specific cause of the plane crash. It does, however, include eyewitness accounts of the moments before and after the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued the report Tuesday, nearly two weeks after Ron and Becky Bramlage, along with their four children, were killed in Polk County, Fla., while returning home from a family vacation.

According to preliminary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control information, the plane began rapidly descending in altitude while Ron Bramlage attempted to maneuver it during a rainstorm. In one minute between 12:33 p.m. and 12:34 p.m., the plane descended from 25,100 feet to 10,700 feet.

The pilot of a nearby airplane reported to FAA air traffic control and NTSB that he heard a Mayday call, and then about one minute later heard the sound of an emergency locator transmitter signal. That type of device is activated by a crash. The plane crashed around 12:35 p.m.

One witness who said he was inside his house at the time reported hearing the sound of a “mechanical fracture of parts.” Once he went outside, he noted that the airplane’s silhouette showed that parts of it were missing, although he didn’t see any parts separate.

An examination later revealed that sections of both wings, and also the horizontal stabilizer and elevator were separated from the main wreckage.

Another witness reported hearing a boom sound that he attributed to a lawn mower, which he thought odd because it had just been raining. He saw black smoke trailing the spinning airplane.

The witness and his brother ran toward the airplane after it crashed and saw fire in the front of the plane. One brother attempted to extinguish the flame with sand but failed while the other opened the left forward door.

Both brothers attempted to render assistance, and both witnesses called 911 and reported the accident.

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