JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) -- A year has passed since a prominent Junction City family as killed in a plane crash on their way home from vacation. The death of the Bramlage family continues to be felt in their community.
Last June when news broke that the Bramlages had been killed, people lined the fence in front of their Junction City home to mourn. They left candles, flowers, pictures and mementos.
Ron Bramlage, 45, Becky Bramlage, 43, and their children- 15-year-old Brandon, 13-year-old Boston,11-year-old Beau and 8-year-old Roxanne, died when their private aircraft crashed in a remote area near Lake Wales, Florida Thursday, June 7, 2012.
They were traveling from the Bahamas back to unction City when the single engine plane went down in a swampy area shortly after noon killing everyone on board. Ron Bramlage was the pilot.
Pieces of the aircraft were scattered over a four-mile area in rough terrain. The crash site was only reachable by helicopters and all-terrain vehicles.
A year later, many are still unable to wrap their minds around the loss of an entire family.
"It’ll be a long time before Junction City heals from the incident involving the Bramlage family… We miss them terribly. Becky Bramlage was involved with the schools so much and my grandson and their son were the closest of friends and it’ll be a long time before this community comes back from that. Everyday we think of them," said Jim Clark, a local businessman and family friend.
"There’s a big void that was left and everyone feels that void. I think it’s one of the saddest things in Junction City," said USD 475 Superintendent Dr. Ron Walker.
Ron Bramlage was a prominent philanthropist and businessman in Junction City and Manhattan area. Becky. Bramlage was the President of the Board of Education for Geary County USD 475. They both served on a number of local committees. Their kids were active in their schools.
"It’s been a sad, long year. The Bramlage family was very involved in the community. Personally, I was able to work with Becky Bramlage. She sat on our Board of Directors for the Geary County Convention and Visitors Bureau. She had such great vision, such great enthusiasm for all that we did but also for the community. She was involved and so was Ron- two people that are very much missed along with their children," said Connie Hall, director of the Geary County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Everyday we almost expect them to walk through the door because of their involvement. They had a passion, not only for their community but for the youth. They had a passion for everything that they did. Junction City misses them greatly. We’ve been touched by them. Everybody in the community that knew them misses them. They were just very very good friends," she said.
The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash. Preliminary findings indicate that the plane quickly began losing altitude after changing its flight path to avoid bad weather.
The pilot of a nearby airplane reported to FAA air traffic control and NTSB hearing a Mayday call about one minute before hearing the sound of an emergency locator transmitter signal, the NTSB's online report states.
A witness located about 1.5 miles from the crash site said he was inside his house when he heard a whooshing sound and what he described as an "energy release." He ran outside and saw the airplane below the clouds and noticed that parts were missing from the plane from it silhouette. He called 911 to report the accident and videotaped the plane's descent.
Another witness close to the crash site said he heard a boom and saw black smoke trailing the airplane which was spinning. He heard a thud and along with his brother, he ran to the wreckage. They tried to put out a fire in front of the airplane and they managed to open a door on the plane and tried to render aid. They called 911 and led first responders to the site.
Since that fateful day, a memorial for the family was set up at Junction City Middle School. Four trees were planted for each of the children and a bench also placed in the front of the school for their parents. School administrators say students walk by it every day and remember the family. A photo of the Bramlages was placed in the Legends Room at K-State’s Bramlage Coliseum as a tribute to them. They've been remembered at local events and meetings and church services.
A picture of Becky in the board room at USD 475 serves as a reminder of her values and the things she stood for.
"It causes me as a superintendent to make sure that every detail is attended to so I can help kids as much as I can," Dr. Walker said.
In the wake of their deaths, members of the community have tried to continue their legacy of giving back. The Bramlage Family Foundation, the family's charitable organization has also helped further their efforts.
"While you cannot fill that void that was left, a lot of members in the community have stepped up, they’ve been helping children. The Bramlage Foundation- I just can’t say enough about them and the things they do. They’ve stepped in and taken over where Ron and Becky left off," Dr. Walker told WIBW. "Ron and Becky had a lot of friends and they have come together to do a lot of things in the community. And it’s in the same spirit of what Ron and Beck did. There’s a lot of good that they’re trying to do."
"People still miss them in our community. They were such great benefactors but they also worked in the community. I worked on a number of committees with Becky. She was always so willing to do whatever needed to be done. Same way with Ronnie-whatever he could help with, he was always very helpful… I know that their kids were well respected in school. They’re a family that is deeply missed by this community," said Geary County Commissioner Florence Whitebread.
Ron Bramlage was a prominent philanthropist and businessman in Junction City and Manhattan area. Becky. Bramlage was the President of the Board of Education for Geary County USD 475. They both served on a number of local committees
The couple graduated from Kansas State University and they were members of the K-State Alumni Association, President's Club, Foundation Trustees and Ahearn Fund.
Ron was the grandson of the late Fred Bramlage, a 1935 graduate of K-State and Junction City businessman. Fred Bramlage was the lead contributor to the construction of Bramlage Coliseum, a multi-purpose arena that opened in 1988 and is home to the K-State men's and women's basketball teams.
A library in the city is named for Ron Bramlage's grandmother, Dorothy Bramlage.