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Kansas family of 6 dead after plane crashes in Florida swamp

Businessman Ron Bramlage, his wife, and their four children were killed when the small plane he was flying home from the Bahamas crashed near Lake Wales, Fla. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.

A father, mother and their four children died when a small plane crashed in a remote rural area of Florida Thursday afternoon, officials said.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said the Pilatus PC-12/47 aircraft went down in the Tiger Creek Swamp near Lake Wales around 12:30 p.m. The area is southeast of Lakeland in central Florida.

The victims were listed as the aircraft's pilot, Ronald Bramlage, 45, Rebecca Bramlage, 43, and their four children. Officials have located the bodies of three of the children and were still searching for the fourth, the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.. 

The aircraft was owned by Roadside Ventures LLC of Junction City, Kan. Ronald Bramlage was the owner of Roadside Ventures, authorities said.


The plane took off from the Treasure Cay airport in the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas and made a stop at the St. Lucie County International Airport in Fort Pierce, Fla., to clear customs. The plane then took off for Junction City at 12:05 p.m. with two adults and four children on board, authorities said. 

Officials said the plane began to break apart over southeast Polk County and crashed. 

The crash area is in a remote area and the Polk County Sheriff's Office used helicopters to fly in law enforcement and medical personnel. 

Parts of the aircraft were found as far as two miles away from the crash site. Officials say that the parts separated before the crash and that the plane was traveling at 26,000 feet when it began experiencing trouble.  

The victims were listed as the aircraft's pilot, Ronald Bramlage, 45, Rebecca Bramlage, 43, and their four children. Officials have located the bodies of three of the children and are still searching for the fourth. 

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

The plane had been owned by Casey Anthony's former attorney, Todd Macoluso, and is the same one that was used the night she was released from jail after her trial, the The Palm Beach Post reported. Macoluso may have sold the plane earlier this year, the Post said.

Ronald Bramlage was the grandson of Fred Bramlage, the namesake of the Bramlage Coliseum at Kansas State University, NBC station KSNW of Wichita, Kan., reported. Rebecca Bramlage was president of the Junction City Board of Education. Both were graduates of Kansas State.

University President Dr. Kirk Schulz and Athletics Director John Currie released a statement:

"We are shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the deaths of Ron and Becky Bramlage and their children today. 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." 

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