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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Family Are ‘Safe’ After Plane Crash


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Dale Earnhardt Jr., the retired NASCAR star, is safe and in a hospital for evaluation after his plane crashed in east Tennessee, his sister said on Twitter.

Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that Earnhardt; his wife, Amy; and their 15-month-old daughter, Isla, also were on the plane along with two pilots.

“Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation,” she tweeted. “We will have no further information at this time.”

Federal Aviation Administration officials said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. F.A.A. officials said the preliminary indication was that two pilots and three passengers were aboard.

Carter County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Thomas Gray confirmed Earnhardt was aboard but said he wasn’t one of the pilots.

Earnhardt retired as a full-time driver in 2017 and has been working as an analyst for NBC. He is part of the scheduled broadcast team for Saturday night’s Cup Series event in Bristol, Tenn., which is about 15 miles from the airport.

This incident comes 26 years after Alan Kulwicki, a former driver and the 1992 Cup champion, died in a plane crash while on his way to the spring race at Bristol from a promotional appearance in Knoxville, Tenn. That crash at Tri-City Regional Airport in Blountville, Tenn., killed four people.

Earnhardt was part of Rick Hendrick’s racing team in 2011 when Hendrick broke a rib and a collarbone while on a small jet that lost its brakes and crash landed in an airport at Key West, Fla. Hendrick’s son, brother and twin nieces were among 10 people killed in a 2004 crash of a plane traveling to a race in Virginia.

Earnhardt, whose father, Dale Sr., died in a crash near the end of the 2001 Daytona 500, has a history of concussions that plagued him over his final years as a driver. He still has a burn scar on his neck from a car crash at Sonoma in 2004 during warm-ups for an American Le Mans Series race that left him with second-degree burns.

He won NASCAR’s most popular driver award a record 15 times with 26 career Cup victories.


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