ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Video obtained by Channel 9 shows the moments NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family escaped a plane as it burst into flames at a Tennessee airport Thursday afternoon.
Authorities said the private plane, registered under JR Motorsports in Mooresville, rolled off the end of the runway around 3:40 p.m. after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport. It then caught fire.
Earnhardt, his wife, Amy, and their 15-month-old daughter, Isla, were on board, along with two pilots and the family dog.
Channel 9 spoke with a witness who gave us video of the family escaping the plane.
(Watch the video below)
You can see black smoke pouring out of the back of the plane and a man running toward the wreckage.
Moments later, flames shoot up from one of the wings just seconds before the door to the plane pops open.
Scrambling to get out are Earnhardt, his wife and the two pilots.
Their first concern is Isla. The baby was handed to the first person off the burning plane, who rushed her to safety.
The video shows one person falling to the ground. Then, the family's dog runs from the wreckage.
Channel 9 spoke with two women who called 911 from their office nearby. They watched in horror as flames spread over the plane.
"I couldn't believe it was happening right here in front of our office. When I saw them get out and hand a child out both of our hearts just sank," witness Lacy Pasquale said.
"It was really scary to see them get out. There wasn't much time for them to get out, and it is really a miracle that they got out before the flames over took the plane," witness Beth Bare said.
Both women said it was just 30 seconds to a minute later before a second explosion caused flames to engulf much of the plane.
Our crews could see National Transportation Safety Board investigators around the plane for much of the day Friday.
Feet away, there were skid marks in the grass from the Cessna Citation jet at the end of the runway before it went through a fence and ended up on the four-lane highway.
Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.
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