Missing plane crash victim may have been sucked out before impact | News
LAKE WALES, Fla.- Investigators say it appears something catastrophic happened in the moments before a luxury single engine airplane went down over a remote area of Polk County Thursday.
On board was a well known Kansas businessman Ron Bramlage, his wife Rebecca, and their four children, Brandon, Boston, Beau, and Roxanne.
"We don't know why the plane came apart in mid-air, but it did," says Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Photo Gallery: Deadly Lake Wales plane crash
911 calls reporting the downed aircraft came in shortly after 12:30 Thursday afternoon. Locals report stormy weather in the area just before the crash.
Emergency crews arrived to find 5 of the 6 family members dead inside the wreckage. After an extensive search of the crash site it was confirmed one of the children, believed to be 13-year-old Boston, was missing.
"We know the child is not in the aircraft. We know there is a gaping hole in the aircraft in the area of one of the seats," said Sheriff Judd.
That could mean the child was sucked from the plane which was flying at 26,000 feet when it first encountered problems. A 3- to 4-mile debris field stretches across a wooded area of Polk County.
At first light Friday, crews will resume a massive effort to locate the missing child's remains and any additional parts of the aircraft.
"This is a corner of the county that is all woods, so we can literally search for days and days and days and if it becomes necessary that's what we'll do." Sheriff Judd says the operation will include air and marine units, deputies on the ground searching by ATV, horseback and even on foot.
"We are looking for this child as if it were our child," says Judd. "We don't know where he is, but certainly we will continue to search until we find him."
The Bramlage family is well known in their hometown of Junction City. Kansas State basketball's "Bramlage Coliseum" is named for the family who provided a huge donation.
Stunned relatives back in Kansas are waiting for additional word on what happened as crews from the FAA and NTSB work to piece together what went so terribly wrong.