Landing gear collapsed during Earnhardt’s crash

NASCAR

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — The National Transportation Safety Board says part of the landing gear collapsed and a section of the right wing hit the runway as the plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. touched down a third time during its crash in East Tennessee last week.

The NTSB released a preliminary report Friday essentially repeating the description investigators offered at a news conference last week.

Earnhardt, a NASCAR television analyst and retired driver, was with wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, two pilots and the family dog when their Cessna Citation Latitude crashed Aug. 15.

The report says three passengers suffered minor injuries.

The report says the plane bounced twice during its landing, then continued airborne down the runway until touching down a third time with about 1,000 feet of paved surface remaining. The plane went through a chain-link fence before resting on the edge of Tennessee Highway 91.

The flight crew assisted passengers in evacuating through the main entry door.

A cell phone video obtained by WSOC-TV in Charlotte from a witness showed the plane on fire after it had come to a stop. Just seconds after a big burst of flames near the aircraft’s door, the door opened and one of the pilots jumped out. The pilot then was handed the baby and ran to safety.

Earnhardt, his wife, his dog and the other pilot then quickly followed, scrambling to get out and away from the burning plane, which seconds later was engulfed in flames.

Earnhardt, 44, was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said there were no serious injuries beyond cuts and abrasions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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