Pilot dead in Florida plane crash after Chicago take off

March 22, 2014 (CLEARWATER, Fla.)

Bronken, his daughter, Katherine, and her friend, Keyana Linbo, were on their way to Clearwater when Bronken's Piper Fixed Wing single-engine plane crashed near the Clearwater airport.

The girls are hospitalized in Tampa. Both attend Grant Community High School and were on spring break. The plane had taken off from Campbell Airport Grayslake Friday night.

"Jeff was a fantastic guy, always helping out wherever he could with everyone here in the neighborhood. Everybody knows him," Ken Hoxie, longtime friend, said.

The 53-year-old was killed around 3 a.m. Saturday when the small plane he was piloting crashed onto a six-lane road in Florida. It hit power lines before crashing head first into a median on a six-lane street.

"I was lying 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.

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 Bronken's Highland Park business.

"It's a shock," said 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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