On Aug. 15, retired race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife, Amy, and their 1-year-old daughter, Isla Rose, were involved in a private plane crash in Tennesse. The family was flying in a Cessna Citation jet that rolled off the runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Carter County.
All three passengers as well as the two pilots survived the accident and were taken to the hospital for evaluation. The family’s dog was also on board. Despite the harrowing incident, everyone was doing well enough to be discharged. Earnhardt, who works as a race announcer for NBC, will be taking the weekend off to recover.
“We’re incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla and the two pilots are safe following today’s accident,” a spokesperson for NBC Sports said in a statement. “After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we’re all in agreement that he should take the weekend off to be with his family. We look forward to having him back in the booth next month at Darlington.”
The aircraft was en route from a short 20-minute flight from Statesville, North Carolina when the crash occurred. Authorities are still looking into what caused the incident.
“This is the fact-finding phase of the investigation only, so I won’t be entertaining any questions about cause,” NTSB senior investigator Ralph Hicks said at a news conference on Aug. 16.
The plane bounced twice before it came down hard on the right main landing gear. Luckily, everyone was able to escape the aircraft minutes before it was engulfed in flames. Videos posted on social media and aired on the news captured the aircraft on its side surrounded by a huge plume of smoke.
Check out this dramatic footage of the aftermath that was captured by eyewitnesses at the scene, posted to YouTube by Fox News:
We’re so glad that everyone in the Earnhardt family is safe!
And the good news doesn’t end there. In order to show their appreciation to the first responders for saving one of their biggest stars, NASCAR sent free tickets to one of their races to authorities and officers who were on the scene.
Employees of the Carter County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office posted about attending the Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) on the office’s Facebook page on Saturday, as seen below:
The sheriff’s office posted four photos of the event, including two which appear to showcase first responders and their families watching the race from the stands.
Alongside the images, the caption reads, “We had a great time with our first responder family at the BMS night race! A big thank you to NASCAR for giving us and all the agencies that responded to Dale Jr.’s plane crash free tickets!”
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the crash. The agency estimates that their investigation will take about a week.