Pilot dead in Florida plane crash after Chicago take off


A plane crash in Florida claims the life of a north suburban business owner.

Jeffrey Bonken was killed and his daughter Katherine injured. Another teen was also hurt when the plane went down early Saturday morning.

This is not the first time this family has been hit by tragedy.

The plane took off Friday night from Campbell Airport in far north suburban Grayslake. It crashed in the middle of a street in Clearwater, Florida, near Tampa.

A neighborhood and a family have been left devastated by the plane crash that claimed the life of Jeffrey Bronken and left his 15-year old daughter and her friend seriously injured.

Saturday afternoon, as the federal and Florida authorities continue to investigate the accident, those who know the Round Lake man and his family have been left stunned.

While family and friends of Bronken gather at his home to grieve, neighbor Ken Hockzey is also remembering his longtime friend.

“Jeff was a fantastic guy, always helping out wherever he could with everyone here in the neighborhood. Everybody knows him,” Hockzey said.

The 53-year-old was killed early Saturday morning when the small plane he was piloting crashed onto a six-lane road in Florida.

Bronken’s passengers, his teenage daughter Kathetine Bronken and her friend Keyana Linbo. were injured.

Both girls are freshmen at Grant Community High School and began spring break this week.

Authorities say the trio, all of northwest suburban Round Lake, took off from Campbell Airport in nearby Grayslake around 6:30 Friday night in Bronken’s Piper Fixed Wing single-engine plane.

Investigators say that the plane crashed around 3 a.m. Chicago time as the craft headed to the St. Pete/Clearwater airport in eastern Florida, about 30 miles east of Tampa. It hit power lines before crashing head first into a median on a six-lane street.

“I was laying in bed just awake and heard The power went out immediately at 4 a.m. Immediately after the power went out, I’d say that within 10 seconds I heard multiple sirens,” said witness Brian Reitmeyer.

“I heard the crash, but I didn’t know it was a plane,” witness Dennis Martin said.

Jeffrey Bronken was a glass contractor who owned The Glass Man Inc., formerly known as Inman Glass.

FAA records show the plane that crashed was owned by Bronkon’s Highland Park business.

Saturday afternoon, Jeffrey Bronken is being remembered as good and kind man who was always helpful to his neighbors.

“It’s a shock,” said friend Ken Hoxie. “It’s a shame. It’s a fantastic family. You don’t understand sometimes why these things happen, all we can do is pray.”

This is not the first time the family has experienced a tragedy. Almost four years ago, Jeffrey Bronken’s oldest daughter Christine Bronken died at the age of 20 in an early morning snowmobile crash in Wisconsin.

The investigation into today’s crash continues.

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