2 Lake Co. teens remain hospitalized after fatal Fla. plane crash

Officials on Monday may be a step closer to understanding what caused a plane crash that killed a Round Lake father and left his daughter and her friend hospitalized.

Jeffrey Bronken was a few miles away from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport early on Saturday when he reported a fuel problem, said Bob Gretz, a senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Gretz said it is still too early to determine the official cause of the crash, but said he expected to release a preliminary report by week’s end. Both the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

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  • Fox Lake, IL, United States

Bronken was flying his daughter Katherine Bronken and her friend, Keyana Linbo, to Florida for spring break, officials and family friends said. Around 4:10 a.m., the small plane crashed nose first into a road in Pinellas County. The plane was about six miles north of the airport, officials said.

An autopsy revealed that Bronken died of blunt trauma, according to a spokesman for the District Six Medical Examiner’s office, which serves Pinellas County.

Katherine, known to friends and family as Katie, and Keyana were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, where they remained hospitalized Monday, said Ken Hoxie, a close Bronken family friend and longtime neighbor. Hoxie said Katie is in serious but stable condition and Keyana was doing “better” than Katie.

Friends and neighbors gathered over the weekend to mourn Jeffrey Bronken and pray for speedy recovery of the girls, who are both 15 and attend Grant Community High School in Fox Lake. In a show of support, they made and signed banners for Katie and Keyana as well as Katie’s brother and mother, Hoxie said.

Jeffrey Bronken’s death marks the second death in less than five years for the family. Katie’s older sister, Christine, died in a snowmobiling accident in 2009.

“The outpouring has been unbelievable,” said Hoxie, who called Jeffrey Bronken a “fantastic father” and remembered the many times he offered to lend a hand and invited neighbors over for an impromptu barbecue.

“Jeff was a large man,” Hoxie said. “He was 6-foot-5, but his heart was larger than him.”

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