ELIZABETHTON — Former NASCAR racer turned TV commentator Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife reportedly escaped serious injury after the plane they were riding in crashed at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport while landing Thursday afternoon.
No serious injuries were reported, although police said Earnhardt was transported to a nearby hospital following the crash.
A witness told the Times News the plane apparently skidded off the runway and crashed during a landing. It later burst into flames and exploded.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s sister Kelley Earnhardt stated on Twitter: “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.”
TN Department of Transportation director Mark Nagi noted that Rt. 91 near the airport has been closed.
The Carter County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release:
At approximately 3:38 PM Wednesday, first responders were alerted that Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s jet ran off the end of the runway near the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. The Carter County Sheriff's Office, Elizabethton Police Department, Elizabethton Fire Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol,y and Carter County Rescue Squad responded immediately.
Initial reports indicate that all passengers made it off the jet alive. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was transported to the hospital. We do not have word on his condition at this time, and his family has requested all inquiries about his injuries be directed to Mr. Earnhardt's PR firm.
We will be working to provide more information as it becomes available.
The Federal Aviation Administration
The FAA issued the following statement on the Dale Earnhardt Jr. crash: “A Cessna Citation rolled off the end of Runway 24 and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee at 3:40 p.m. today. Preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard. Local officials will release their names and conditions. The aircraft registration is N8JR, look up the owner at FAA.gov. The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine probable cause of the accident.”
The Times News will update this report as more information becomes available.