Plane of NASCAR Driver Earnhardt Jr. ‘Bounced at Least Twice’ Before Crashing

Miguel Moreno
By Miguel Moreno
August 17, 2019US News

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.

“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.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. signs autographs during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 09, 2019 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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.

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.

“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.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is introduced prior to during the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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