A preliminary report is available as to the circumstances surrounding a March 22 plane crash on McMullen Booth Road just north of Union Street. The pilot died at the scene. His daughter died four days later. A friend remains hospitalized at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. They were traveling from Chicago to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
CLEARWATER – The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report regarding the fatal plane crash that occurred on March 22 on McMullen Booth Road.
According to the report, the Piper PA-28 was damaged when it collided with power lines during a forced landing on the highway in Safety Harbor. The pilot, Jeffrey Bronken, 53, died at the scene, and the two passengers, the pilot’s 15-year-old daughter, Katherine Bronken, and her 15-year-old friend, Keyana Linbo, were seriously injured. Katherine died on March 26. Linbo is reported to be in stable condition.
“According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane was in radio and radar contact with air traffic control as it approached PIE (St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport,)” the report said. “The pilot subsequently reported a fuel emergency and the plane impacted power lines about six miles north of PIE.
“The wreckage came to rest upright, nose-down, oriented on a southeasterly heading on the highway beneath the power lines. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The engine and cockpit area were crushed inward and the cabin roof had separated. The cabin roof, where the top of the cockpit door met the cabin, exhibited an impact mark consistent with a wire strike. The impact mark was a similar size to an approximate 1.25-inch-thick aluminum power line that had separated during the impact, causing a power outage to the area. The aluminum power line had been located about 160 feet above the highway.”
The left main fuel tank remained intact during the crash, and FAA inspectors recovered only about 4 ounces of fuel from it, the report said.
“The right wing was undamaged with the exception of a partial separation of the right flap, and the right fuel tank was compromised at its fuel drain,” the report said. “During recovery, the FAA inspector observed some drops of fuel dripping from the right tank. The fuel selector was found positioned to the left main fuel tank.”
Jeffrey Bronken had a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land, and his most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in October 2013, the report said. At that time, he had a total flight experience of 1,549 hours.
According to a NTSB spokesman, final, official reports of crashes can take up to a year to complete.