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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Releases First Statement After Plane Crash

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In his first public statement since surviving a plane crash last week, NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Monday that his family is “truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries.”

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After Thursday’s accident at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennesee, Earnhardt, his wife Amy and their 1-year-old daughter Isla were hospitalized and treated for minor injuries. The site of the crash was about 20 minutes from Johnson City.

Two pilots and the family dog were also on the plane, registered to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s race team, JR Motorsports.

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“Amy and I want to thank everyone who has lifted us up with phone calls, messages and prayer since last Thursday,” the statement reads. “We are truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries, including our daughter, our two pilots and our dog Gus. With respect to the investigation, we will not be speculating or discussing the cause of the accident. I am thankful for the quick response of my pilots, local law enforcement, emergency personnel and hospital staff. Lastly, Amy and I continue to be very appreciative of the privacy extended to us to process everything. It has been important to do that together and on our own time.”

Earnhardt also took time to address the situation in his latest edition of the Dale Jr. Download on Monday afternoon, preceding a pre-recorded segment with Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron.

Earnhardt.’s plane, a Cessna Citation, rolled off the end of Runway 24 and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee at 3:40 p.m. ET, according to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA later released the preliminary incident notice. The cause of the accident, it said, was the airplane experiencing a hard landing, which led to it bouncing off the runway, where it caught fire. In the injury portion of the report, all five people onboard — the two pilots and the Earnhardt family — were marked as having no injuries.

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Ralph Hicks, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said last week NTSB officials had interviewed the Earnhardt family and the pilots, and their remarks were consistent with the video footage.

Hicks indicated the NTSB would release a preliminary report likely this week.

The former driver of car No. 88 is expected to return to the broadcast booth Labor Day weekend, when NASCAR’s premier series returns to Darlington, S.C. for the Bojangles’ Southern 500.