ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WSAV) – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released some preliminary information about a fiery plane crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family.
Officials from the agency arrived on Friday in Elizabethton to begin their investigation into the crash that resulted in only minor injuries.
According to NTSB Senior Investigator Ralph Hicks, based in Atlanta, their findings so far indicate that the Cessna Citation, an 11 passenger plane, crashed around 3:40 p.m. Thursday and came to a stop about 1,000 feet beyond the end of the runway at Elizabethton Municipal Airport.
Investigators were able to walk the runway and review some footage from area surveillance cameras.
“[The video] showed us quite a bit. The airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear, and you can actually see the right main landing gears collapsing on the video,” Hicks explained. “The airplane continued down the runway off to the end, through a fence, and came to a stop behind me here on Highway 91.”
The highway has been closed off near the crash site and will likely remain closed for the next two days.
Hicks said that the fire that broke out is believed to have started post-landing. Everyone on board, including Earnhardt, his wife, child and family dog, were able to get out before the fire.
“They were able to use their procedures and use the doors on the aircraft to get out,” the senior investigator said, adding that it was done in “a matter of one or two minutes.”
Hicks added that the agency has spoken with the Earnhardts and the two pilots that were on board. He said all of the information provided is consistent with their findings so far.
The NTSB will continue to investigate, gathering evidence from the runway, the plane and audio recordings from the pilots.
A preliminary report is expected to be released in about a week with basic information on the crash.
Some story information via WJHL