ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (FOX Carolina) - The National Transportation Safety Board is working to determine what caused a plane with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family on board to land hard, bounce, and then crash through a fence and come to rest near a Tennessee highway.
NTSB Investigator Ralph Hicks said the crash happened Thursday around 3:40 p.m.
Hicks said the 2015 Cessna 680 jet, owned by JRM Air LLC, had departed from Statesville, NC about 20 minutes before the hard landing.
When the plane landed, Hicks said it bounced at least twice before running off the roadway, crashing through a fence, going down a ditch, and eventually stopping near a highway, about 1,000 feet away from the runway.
The Carter County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee said Earnhardt, a retired NASCAR driver, and his family got off the plane safely before it caught fire.
Deputies report all passengers, including the two pilots, were alive, although Earnhardt Jr. had to be transported to the hospital.
His sister, Kelley, has confirmed his wife Amy and daughter Isla were on board as well, indicating all are safe and taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.
I can confirm Dale, Amy & Isla along with his two pilots were involved in a crash in Bristol TN this afternoon. Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation. We have no further information at this time. Thank you for your understanding.— Kelley Earnhardt (@EarnhardtKelley) August 15, 2019
NBC Sports has confirmed that Earnhardt will be off air this weekend to spend time with his family. Their statement below:
We're incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today's accident. After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we're all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family. We look forward to having him back in the booth next month at Darlington.
Around 1 a.m. Earnhardt's sister Kelley, wrote another message on Twitter thanking God and first responders, medical staff, and fans:
Finally laying down for the night and want to say thank you to God, the angels among us, our pilots, first responders, medical staff, our NASCAR family and everyone that has reached out in whatever way to support us all. ❤️— Kelley Earnhardt (@EarnhardtKelley) August 16, 2019
The NTSB said they are reviewing video of the crash and working to disassemble and thoroughly investigate what's left of the jet.
Hicks said the jet did not have any known issues before having problems landing.
The plane's cockpit voice recorder will be sent to Washington, DC for download.
A preliminary report on the crash is expected to be released in about a week, Hicks said.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to social media to release a statement about the incident.
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