New details have been released about the plane crash involving NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family. Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration said that a Cessna Citation rolled off the runway at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. CT and caught fire. Now, however, the investigators have provided more information.
According to National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ralph Hicks, the Cessna landed violently and bounced multiple times before veering off the runway and onto a Tennessee highway. Surprisingly, there were no cars involved in the accident despite it occurring mere minutes after a school down the road had let the kids out for the afternoon.
"The airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear," he said. "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."
The investigators also took statements from the pilots, as well as Earnhardt's family. All of the accounts were consistent with what occurred on the video footage that was obtained. According to NBC News, the investigators are expected to release a preliminary report in roughly seven days. It will divulge basic facts but will not provide conclusions about the cause of the accident.
"As bad as this accident was, there's a lot of good things that happened," Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander said. "One being that everyone walked away. The second being at 3:40 in the afternoon, after school had just let out a couple of miles up the road, there were no cars involved in this accident."
Earnhardt 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. However, NBC Sports said in a statement that it would be best if Earnhardt took the weekend off to be with his family after such an event.