Pilot Killed in Fla. Plane Crash was "Larger Than Life"

Jeffrey Bronken, a 53-year-old man from north suburban Round Lake, was killed when his plane crashed en route from Chicago to St. Pete/Clearwater Airport

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Neighbors and community members were mourning the death of a Round Lake man Saturday after a plane he was flying crashed en route from Chicago to Florida earlier that day. Christian Farr reports.

    A community was mourning a Round Lake man Saturday after he was killed when his small single-engine plane crashed on a six-lane street in Florida earlier that morning.

    “It’s hard to fathom, everybody is still in shock,” said Round Lake resident and family friend Ken Hoxie. “It’s a big loss to this neighborhood.”

    Small Plane from Chicago Crashes in Fla.

    [CHI] Small Plane from Chicago Crashes in Fla.
    A pilot was killed and two teens were injured after a small single-engine plane from Chicago crashed in the median of a six-lane street in Florida early Saturday morning.

    Jeffrey Bronken, a 53-year-old man from north suburban Round Lake, was killed when his plane crashed en route from Chicago to St. Pete/Clearwater Airport, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

    “He was a larger than life type individual, a very generous person,” said Hoxie.

    The plane was traveling to St. Pete/Clearwater Airport from Chicago when it crashed around 4 a.m. on McMullen Booth and Enterprise Road in Pinellas County, officials said. It came to rest mostly in the median of the six-lane street.

    “It’s completely horrible,” said Bronken’s neighbor Lisa Robert.

    Two 15-year-old girls, also from Round Lake, were injured. Katherine Bronken and Keyana Linbo were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla., but their conditions were not immediately known.

    Neighbors say the girls, who are students at Grant Community High School in Fox Lake, were traveling for spring break.

    The plane is registered to Glass Man Inc., a company out of Highland Park, according to NBC affiliate WFLA.

    Neighbors said Bronken ran the glass contracting company, but noted he was very much a “family man.”

    Bronken’s wife Susan was traveling to Florida Saturday to be with her injured daughter.

    Family friends said she recently underwent surgery for breast cancer and that this is not the only tragedy the family has faced.

    Nearly five years ago, the Bronken’s eldest daughter Christine was killed in a snowmobiling accident.

    “To have trauma in that intensity in one household is just completely awful,” said Roberts.