As near misses go, it doesn’t get much closer than this… incredible scenes have emerged from Tennessee where renowned NASCAR team owner and former racer Dale Earnhardt Jr (above) has escaped a fiery plane crash.
What’s more, he, his family and the plane’s two pilots emerged from the wreckage of the downed private jet without a scratch.
Authorities are reporting that the plane - a Cessna Citation – ran off the end of the runway at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee after landing, with part of the landing gear collapsing and dropping the plane onto its belly.
Eyewitness video shows Earnhardt, his wife Amy Reimann and the family dog running from the aircraft. The couple's daughter is just one year old.
Within five minutes, the rear of the aircraft was engulfed by fire.
The family was transported to a medical centre but have since been released.
“I got here within five minutes, and the airplane was fully engulfed (in flames), Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunsford said during an evening news conference. “All of the people were out of it … Five occupants, no one’s injured. Under the circumstances, we’re extremely blessed and fortunate.”
The Earnhardt name is synonymous with the sport of NASCAR, and it’s a legend that’s tinged with sadness – the family’s patron Dale Earnhardt Sr died during a race in 2001.
Many of NASCAR’s participants fly privately, thanks to the onerous 38-week plus schedule.
Ten members of one team were killed in 2004, when a Beechcraft Super King Air belonging to the Hendrick Motorsports team crashed in Virginia. Four members of the Hendrick family died in the crash.
Former Formula One driver David Coulthard walked away from a crash in 2000 that killed the two pilots.