POLK COUNTY, Fla. - In a news conference Friday afternoon, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced that he believes investigators found the body of 13-year-old plane crash victim Boston Bramlage. However, Judd said that the body still needs to be positively identified.
"This is a tragedy of monumental proportion, and it breaks our hearts. However, we are relieved that we were able to recover this young man so that the surviving family members can have some sort of closure. We will remain on scene to assist the NTSB and FAA as long as we are needed. Thank you so much to all of the agencies who came to support us in this investigation," said Judd.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers found Bramlage's body at 2:20 p.m. on Friday,
about 0.4 of a mile southwest of the main crash site where the main part of the plane rests on the ground.
Authorities said a plane carrying Bramlage, along with his five family
members, went down in a remote portion of the Tiger Creek Swamp area about 12:40 p.m. on Thursday near Lake Wales, killing everyone on board.
Officials said during a Friday morning news conference that the plane started breaking apart in the air at 26,000 feet.
Ronald Bramlage, 45, was piloting the plane. His wife, Rebecca, 43, and their four children were also onboard.
Bramlage, was not found
amid the plane wreckage immediately after the crash.
Investigators said they believe he was sucked out of the plane as it was going down.
"The child was not on the plane when the plane went down," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "This is not the first crash I've worked where a person is ejected in the air before the plane hit the ground, and that appears to be what happened here."
Authorities said another pilot heard a
mayday call, but that call for help didn't reveal what the problem was. Then, the plane disappeared from radar.
Investigators said the massive debris field is as wide as three miles.
Eyewitness Pete Mauldin said it sounded like the engine sputtered before it cut off.
The aircraft had taken off from Treasure Cay Airport in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas. It stopped at the St. Lucie County International Airport to clear customs and was headed to Junction City,
Kan., before crashing south of Lake Wales.
The Federal Aviation Administration's website lists the single-engine plane as a Pilatus PC-12/47, registered to Roadside Ventures LLC of Junction City. It was built in 2006.
Parts of the aircraft have been located as far as
two miles from the crash site, authorities said. It is apparent that parts of the aircraft separated before the crash.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office is conducting a death investigation. The NTSB and FAA will be conducting investigations related the crash.
Additionally, the aircraft manufacturer and the engine manufacturer will be conducting investigations.
An NTSB investigator said there was separation of the horizontal stabilizer, which controls the angle of attack for the plane and separation of both wings. But he also said the investigation is
preliminary; they have a lot of parts to locate, and it could take a year before authorities know what happened.
The plane happens to be the same plane that flew Casey Anthony away from Orlando after she was released from jail last year.
It was owned by her former attorney, Todd Macaluso, but may have been sold earlier this year.