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New details emerge in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s fiery plane crash

"This news is as good as it could be," said Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier.
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/ Source: TODAY

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family are recovering after Thursday's shocking plane crash at a Tennessee airport.

The former NASCAR driver, his wife Amy and 1-year-old daughter Isla were on board, along with two pilots and the Earnhardt's family dog when the plane bounced multiple times during landing, crashed into a fence and burst into flames near a highway.

Investigators have obtained video footage of the crash, which is consistent with the interviews of all on board and are trying to figure out what went wrong.

The wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton
The wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee.Charles Mostoller / Reuters

"The airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear," said National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ralph Hicks at the news conference. "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."

NBC News reported that the outcome could have been much worse had there been any cars nearby that were hit by the plane. "It's just the grace of the good Lord that a vehicle didn't get struck by the plane," Elizabethton Police Chief Jason Shaw said at a news conference. "It's a very heavily trafficked roadway."

Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Earnhardt's sister, said in a statement that everyone who was aboard the plane is "doing well" and thanked racing fans for their "overwhelming support."

The National Transportation Safety Board will review the cockpit voice recorder and hope to have more information in the next week.

A 911 call placed from the scene of the crash reveals the chaotic moments as the Earnhardt family and pilots made a dramatic escape from the plane. "There’s fire all over the place. It crashed through the fence and everything," said a caller.

As the plane traveled onto Highway 91, it burst into flames. If the fence had wrapped around the plane's door, it would have made escape more difficult.

Earnhardt, 44, and his family were released from the hospital Thursday. Earnhardt retired from racing in 2017 and has since worked as an analyst for NBC Sports. His father, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr., died in a crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001.

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch and other NASCAR colleagues all spoke about their friend at the Bristol Motor Speedway where Earnhardt was scheduled to be a commentator at the Cup Series race this weekend. Busch said that his "heart just dropped" when he heard the news of the crash.

"It takes your breath away. When you see them in trouble like that, you see that video, that hits home man," said fellow driver Clint Bowyer.

Earnhardt will take the weekend off to spend time with his family, recovering from this extremely close call.