Two teenage girls pulled alive from wreck of small plane after their father died when plane nose dived and crashed in suburban street

  • Jeffrey Bronken was pronounced dead at the scene, both 15-year-olds Katherine Bronken and Keyana Linbo survived the crash
  • The two teen girls were rushed to a local hospital and remain in critical condition
  • The trio had flown from Chicago and may have been on a Spring Break trip

By Ryan Gorman

An Illinois father is dead, his teen daughter and her friend are injured after a plane he was piloting nose-dived into a residential neighborhood Saturday morning in Florida.

Jeffrey Bronken, 53, died, but daughter Katherine Bronken and Keyana Linbo, both 15, survived the early morning crash in suburban Tampa. 

The trio, all from Chicago suburb Round Lake, were headed to nearby St Peteresburg – Clearwater International Airport when the plane crashed around 4 a.m., WTSP reported. The two girls are in critical condition at a Tampa hospital.

Family tragedy: Jeffrey Bronken (right) died in the crash, but 15-year-old daughter Katherine survived, she is in critical condition at a local hospital

Family tragedy: Jeffrey Bronken (right) died in the crash, but 15-year-old daughter Katherine survived, she is in critical condition at a local hospital

Deadly: Investigators look at the wreckage of a small passenger plane which crashed early Saturday, killing a 53-year-old man and injuring two teen girls

Deadly: Investigators look at the wreckage of a small passenger plane which crashed early Saturday, killing a 53-year-old man and injuring two teen girls

Authorities told Bay News 9 that the single-engine Piper knocked out power to locals after clipping power lines on its way down.

The plane crashed on a busy six lane road in the town of Safety Harbor, just across the bay from Tampa.

No other injuries were caused by the accident, and investigators have yet to determine a cause.

‘This happened at 4 a.m., so luckily, no one was on the road at that time in this vicinity,’ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. David DiSano told Bay News 9.

The red and white plane left Chicago around 6.30 Friday night, officials said. It is not clear why they were headed to Florida, but the pilot may have been flying the two girls south for a Spring Break trip.

Best friends: Both Kate Bronken (left) and Keyana Linbo (right) were aboard the flight, Linbo both are in critical condition at a Tampa hospital

Best friends: Both Kate Bronken (left) and Keyana Linbo (right) were aboard the flight, Linbo both are in critical condition at a Tampa hospital

Crumpled: An investigator from the FAA takes photographs of the small single-engine plane

Crumpled: An investigator from the FAA takes photographs of the small single-engine plane

A neighbor of the Bronken’s confirmed to the Chicago Tribune the father and daughter were aboard the plane, and also that widow Susan Bronken was already headed to Florida.

People near the site of the crash described the sights and sounds that woke them early Saturday morning to the Tampa Bay Times.

Marina Brown, 20, said she heard a loud noise and saw a flash of light followed by sparks.

 

It looked like ‘fireworks shooting up from the ground,’ according to Mary Pronesti.

Bill Tregulas said it sounded ‘like a large guitar snapping.’

Another person told Bay News 9 that he head a ‘big boom,’ saw a flash of light and initially dismissed it as a thunder storm.

Emergency responders from several agencies responded quickly to the scene.

Jeff Bronken
Kate Bronken

Write caption here

Also injured: Linbo was also hurt, the extent of her injuries is not known at this time

Also injured: Linbo was also hurt, the extent of her injuries is not known at this time

Rushing to see her: Mother Susan Bronken has already left Chicago for Florida to be at daughter Kate's side

Rushing to see her: Mother Susan Bronken has already left Chicago for Florida to be at daughter Kate's side

The aircraft never caught fire, but several small fires along the median where it came to rest nose-first with its tail in the air were put out by firefighters.

More than 1,100 households lost power immediately after the deadly crash, but that numbers was reduced to about 450 by 6 a.m. according to the Tampa Tribune.

The airport the trio was flying to is less than a mile from the scene.

Both teen girls remain hospitalized, their prognosis is not immediately known.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Very sad. Rest assured, Linbo's family will sue.

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Being RICH and flying around in a private plane ... ain't all it's cracked up to be.

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This crash was 500 feet from my sister's home... she took it really hard. I'm a pilot as well... sad to see this. Notice the propeller is not bent... so the engine was not spinning when it crashed, along with no fire. I would have to assume he was out of fuel, but I'm sure he did everything he could to avoid hurting people on the ground. Sad he didn't get to know the girls survived.

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Imagine the life changing horror that faced them when they took that picture in the plane. That hurts me. They looked really close.

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I personally know seven people who were killed in small craft crashes. I know only 1 person killed in a car accident and none in commercial aircraft. My brother and brother-in-law who have flown extensively in small company planes tell horror stories about the close calls they have had .

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This is why I don't fly

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If it was on approach then it's very likely a combination of high angle of bank and an uncoordinated turn caused a spin/stall with not enough altitude to recover.

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Those girls are 15 years old??? Look like they're in their twenties!

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My sister lives on the outskirts of Memphis next to a small private airdrome. Light Aircraft are taking off and landing every minute of the day and handles more flights than Heathrow. To many Americans flying is no different than driving a car.I doubt if this incident had a mention in the US.

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Mr Cole: My nephew who is an airline pilot informed me that the airport was one of the busiest in the USA. But what has amazed me are the Red Arrows. There 220,000 registered light aircraft and 600,000 pilots in the country. On average private aircraft average 5 incidents a day. On one w.e. in march 2013 nine cashes with 11 fatalities. Now red arrow that.

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JL Cole: It depends on how you measure the traffic at an airport - aircraft movements or passenger movements. Heathrow has a relatively small number of aircraft movements, but they are all large airliners, mostly seating between 150 and 350 passengers, so the number of passenger movements is impressively high.

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Less than a mile to the airport they crashed, leading to one death and two critical injuries. So very, very sad.

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