The plane of former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. ‘bounced at least twice’ before crashing in Tennessee, said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Friday, Aug. 16.
Earnhardt, his family, his dog, and two pilots can be seen escaping the flaming wreckage in a suspenseful video published by WSOCTV. Footage of the smoking plane beside the Tennessee highway was captured from many directions.
NEW: Video shows thick, black smoke rising from the site of a small plane crash that was carrying Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his family. Everyone on board, including Earnhardt, escaped the wreck, said the local sheriff. https://t.co/2nqljR6C5C pic.twitter.com/noizctpZVk
— ABC News (@ABC) August 15, 2019
Elizabethton- NTSB investigators are going over every portion of the plane that Dale Earnhardt Jr and his family were in when it crash. The latest on their investigation today on eyewitness news at noon and five. pic.twitter.com/8IsQEhvMGI
— Dave Faherty (@FahertyWSOC9) August 16, 2019
“It’s just the grace of the good Lord that a vehicle didn’t get struck by the plane,” Police Chief Jason Shaw of Elizabethton said at a news conference. “It’s a very heavily trafficked roadway.”
In the video uploaded by WSOCTV, a man is scene popping open and exiting through the plane’s emergency exit door. He is then handed Earnhardt’s 15-month-old daughter Isla. Another man exits the plane, with Amy Earnhardt following and stumbling onto the ground after getting out.
The sister of the NASCAR legend, Kelley Earnhardt, said in a statement that everyone who was onboard is “doing well.”
“We want to reiterate our appreciation to the NASCAR community, first responders, medical staff, and race fans everywhere for the overwhelming support in the last 24 hours,” said Kelley in a statement published on Twitter by sports reporter Ashley Stroehlein.
Updated statement from Kelley Earnhardt below.
“We want to reiterate our appreciation to the NASCAR community, first responders, medical staff, & race fans everywhere for the overwhelming support in the last 24 hours. Dale, Amy, Isla & our two pilots are doing well.” pic.twitter.com/e8LioTTnzB
— Ashley Stroehlein (@ashstro) August 16, 2019
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was taken to a hospital and discharged that same day.
Investigating the Charred Wreck
It is unknown what caused the crash, but the NTSB is investigating the charred crash-site.
“The airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear,” said NTSB Investigator Ralph Hicks, reported ABC7. “You can actually see the right main landing gear collapsing on the video.
Additional details from the NTSB on the plane crash that involved Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family. pic.twitter.com/0eIgmymdSz
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) August 16, 2019
“The airplane continued down the runway, off to the end, through a fence and came to a stop behind me here on Highway 91.”
NTSB said the plane, Cessna Citation Latitude, left Statesville, North Carolina, about 20 minutes before it crashed at 3:40 p.m.
Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander said many good things happened, considering the crash took place shortly after school let out, everyone walked away from the accident and no vehicles were damaged.
NTSB spoke with all who boarded the plane and received consistent accounts of what happened. The cockpit was also equipped with a voice recorder which Hick’s said will be sent to NTSB headquarters in Washington.
Kelley Earnhardt added in her statement: “We are assisting the Federal Aviation Administration and the [NTSB] in the investigation and will have no further comment at this time.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired as a full-time racer in 2017. He was scheduled to be part of NBC’s broadcast team for Saturday night’s Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.