New video shows dramatic escape from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s burning plane

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Saturday, August 17, 2019
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Dramatic new video shows the heart-stopping moment that those aboard a plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family escaped from the burning wreckage after the aircraft skidded off the runway in Tennessee earlier this week.

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. -- Dramatic new video shows the heart-stopping moment that those aboard a plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family escaped from the burning wreckage after the aircraft skidded off the runway in Tennessee earlier this week.

The footage, obtained by ABC affiliate WSOC, shows the Cessna Citation's front door popping open as flames and smoke billow from the back of the plane. A man steps out of the plane and then reaches back to pull the NASCAR legend's baby girl through the door. A second man then jumps from the plane, followed by Earnhardt's wife Amy, who briefly trips before running to safety.

The family's dog is also seen running away from the flaming wreckage.

Eyewitnesses watched the family escape just before the plane, which was carrying a thousand gallons of fuel, erupted into a fiery inferno.

Investigators said Friday that the plane bounced multiple times during a crash landing and veered off the runway before ending up on a Tennessee highway.

"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."

Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, said in a statement that all five people aboard the plane Thursday are "doing well." Earnhardt, now a NASCAR television analyst, was taken to the hospital for evaluation Thursday and discharged that day.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ralph Hicks said the Cessna Citation Latitude had left Statesville, North Carolina, about 20 minutes before the crash at 3:40 p.m. Earnhardt was with his wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, two pilots and a dog.

"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."

Federal Aviation Administration officials had said the plane caught fire after landing. Hicks said everyone aboard was able to evacuate through aircraft doors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.