Scary news for race fans and followers of Dale Earnhardt Jr. that fortunately has a happy ending. The retired NASCAR driver and his family were on-board a private Cessna jet when it skidded off the runway at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in far northeastern Tennessee. Amazingly, it appears everyone on-board is okay – WJHL reports that five people were on the aircraft including Earnhardt’s wife Amy and their daughter, another passenger, and the pilot. The family dog was also on-board. Per a tweet from Earnhardt’s sister Kelley Earnhardt, everyone is safe.
Earnhardt Jr. reportedly suffered just minor cuts and scrapes. The specific condition of others isn’t clear at this time, though no injuries have thus far been reported to the FAA. The tone of the report suggests that, if there are injuries to the pilot and other passengers, they are minor. That’s absolutely remarkable considering the above video posted by WBIR on YouTube shows the rear of the aircraft engulfed in flames. Subsequent video footage shows a majority of the plane burned to a skeleton before the flames were extinguished.
Walking away from disaster:
What exactly happened here? That’s still being investigated. The WJHL report states the Cessna skidded off the end of the runway, but it’s not clear if the aircraft had just landed or was aborting the takeoff. Regardless, the accident reportedly caused enough damage to rupture the jet’s fuel tank, leading to a significant fuel spill.
Earnhardt Jr. retired from NASCAR in 2017 after a long and successful career that includes two victories at the Daytona 500. Considering the extent of the damage done to this Cessna, we’re extremely grateful everyone on-board escaped with their lives, never mind limited injuries.