ELIZABETHON, Tenn. (WKRN) – Just days after escaping from a fiery plane crash, Dale Earnhardt Jr. spoke with ESPN reporter Marty Smith.
Earnhardt Jr., his wife and 15-month-old daughter, and the pilots all escaped last Thursday’s crash virtually unscathed.
“He’s such a relatable, raw, honest, vulnerable person. And his fans just adore him,” said Marty Smith with ESPN. “Everyone’s just so grateful that he and Amy and Isla and the pilots, and even their family dog, were able to get out of that airplane.”
Smith, who has had a chance to speak with Earnhardt Jr. said he and his family are grateful for the outpouring of support they have received since the crash.
“Right now, they’re just so appreciative of the outpouring of support and love that they’re receiving from all over the country. And certainly, through the NASCAR community.”
The 44-year-old retired driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the crash in East Tennessee.
Federal investigators are still working to piece together exactly what caused the crash, but the National Transportation Safety Board said, surveillance showed the aircraft bounced twice before it came down hard on the right landing gear. The landing gear then collapsed, and the plane barreled through a fence and into a ditch.
Late Monday afternoon, Earnhardt Jr. tweeted his first statement since the crash last week, saying in part, “Amy and I want to thank everyone who has lifted us up with phone calls, messages and prayer since last Thursday. …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.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation reopened the highway where the crash happened earlier Monday. The plane and its debris have been moved to Georgia where the investigation into what caused the hard landing and fire will continue.