ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Pilot error was the conclusion of Wednesday’s report from the National Transportation Safety Board investigation of a plane crash involving NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his family along with two crew members.
“They were going too fast and I said ‘Oh my God, they’re going to go over!’ and then it looked like the plane kind of skidded a little bit,” recalled Ashley Vance who was driving on Highway 91 when the crash happened. “He was definitely going way too fast to make that landing safely.”
The air was filled with smoke, the smell of jet fuel, and the sound of sirens will forever be engrained in her mind coming from the fiery plane crash on Aug. 16, 2019.
Vance saw the entire crash and was one of the first to help the NASCAR driver. She says the pilot immediately jumped into action.
“[He] was quick to help,” she said. “He immediately opened the hatch and got everybody out. He stayed there until everybody did get out of the plane then stood to the side.”
Days after the crash, Earnhardt, Jr. expressed gratitude for the decisions made by those who flew his aircraft that day.
“We’re just so appreciative of the quick decisions by our pilots,” Earnhardt, Jr. said on his podcast on August 19th, 2019.
Despite the report of the crash, one thing remains the same over a year later…the Earnhardt family and everyone on the plane were lucky to make it out almost unharmed.
“It was so fast,” Earnhardt, Jr. recalled on the podcast. “How quickly they responded and took care of us…we were in incredible hands.”
Earnhardt, Jr. has not reacted to the report just yet. News Channel 11’s Anslee Daniel reached out to the NTSB for further comment and clarification on the report. A spokesperson for the agency said they believed the report speaks for itself and that if any action were to be taken against the pilots, it would come from the Federal Aviation Administration.