Dale Earnhardt Jr. hospitalized after his private plane crashes at Tennessee airport


Smoke billowed from the former NASCAR driver’s Cessna 680 business jet after the accident at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. USA TODAY

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s private plane crashed Thursday at a Tennessee airport, and the former NASCAR driver was transported to an area hospital, a spokesperson for the Carter County Sheriff’s Department told USA TODAY Sports. 

“Based on initial reports, everyone made it out alive,” spokesman Thomas Gray said. 

Earnhardt, his wife, infant daughter and two pilots were aboard the Cessna Citation that crashed around 3:40 p.m. ET, Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, posted on Twitter. The plane rolled off a runway at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport and caught fire after landing, the FAA said in a statement. 

The NTSB announced Thursday evening that the agency was sending two investigators to the scene of the “runway excursion.”

Kelley Earnhardt wrote that Earnhardt, his wife, Amy, and 1-year-old daughter, Isla, and the pilots were “safe” and were “taken to the hospital for further evaluation.”

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REACTION: NASCAR world reacts with relief after Dale Jr. survives fiery plane crash

The airport where the crash occurred is located about 15 miles south of Bristol Motor Speedway, site of this weekend’s NASCAR race. Earnhardt has been part of NBC Sports’ NASCAR broadcast crew since he retired from full-time racing at the end of the 2017 season. 

“We’re incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today’s accident,” NBC Sports said in a statement. “After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we’re all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family. We look forward to having him back in the booth next month at Darlington.”

Follow A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez.

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