Investigators: Earnhardt’s plane bounced, went off runway and onto highway

Earnhardt, the famed former NASCAR driver and current racing analyst, and his wife were on a private jet that crashed into a fence at the end of a runway upon landing Thursday afternoon at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in east Tennessee, officials said.

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (AP) — Investigators say the plane carrying NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family bounced, veered off the runway and ended up on a highway during a crash landing.

Elizabethton Police Chief Jason Shaw said at a news conference Friday “it’s just the grace of the good Lord that a vehicle didn’t get struck by the plane.”

National Transportation Safety Board investigators obtained surveillance video that included footage of the crash. They plan to issue a preliminary report in about a week.

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

NBC Sports says all five people aboard were safe. Earnhardt was to be part of the network’s broadcast crew for Saturday’s Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He decided after the crash to take the weekend off to be with his family.

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