By Helen Murphy / People.com
August 19, 2019
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Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family are “doing well” after surviving a fiery plane crash in Elizabethton, Tennessee, on Thursday, during which the aircraft bounced at least twice on the runway.

“He and his family are doing well,” a rep for Earnhardt Jr. confirmed to PEOPLE on Thursday night. “Dale was discharged from the hospital earlier today and NBC Sports has given him the weekend off from broadcasting to be with his family.”

In their own tweet, NBC Sports also said that Earnhardt Jr. would not be in the network’s broadcast booth this weekend, explaining that “we’re all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family.”

On Thursday, Earnhardt Jr.’s sister Kelley Earnhardt Miller, with whom he runs his racing business, tweeted that the NASCAR driver, his wife Amy Earnhardt, and their young daughter, Isla Rose were involved in the crash, as well as two pilots.

In a follow-up tweet later in the day, Miller wrote: “Finally laying down for the night and want to say thank you to God, the angels among us, our pilots, first responders, medical staff, our NASCAR family and everyone that has reached out in whatever way to support us all.”

An Elizabethton Fire Department official told PEOPLE on Thursday that Earnhardt Jr., 44, and his wife were transported to the hospital out of an abundance of caution and without serious injuries.

Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA

In a Friday press conference, Ralph Hicks, senior investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, gave an update on the investigation into the crash.

After looking at surveillance video from buildings around the area, the NTSB determined that “the airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear,” Hicks said. ;

“The airplane continued down the runway off to the end, through a fence and it came to a stop on Highway 91,” he added.

The NTSB will continue the investigation in the coming days, with a preliminary report available in seven days. According to Hicks, the investigation will include documenting evidence from the crash site and looking at the airplane systems — including a cockpit voice recorder — “very methodically.”

Hicks said that both pilots onboard were “professionally trained” and that, as far as the NTSB knows, the passengers were properly strapped in. They were able to escape “very quickly” in a matter of “one or two minutes” after the crash.

Many racing celebrities sent their well wishes for the Earnhardt family on Thursday.

“Thank god everyone is safe,” former NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson tweeted. Fellow racers including Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer, and Daniel Suárez shared similar thoughts.

Earnhardt Jr. retired from racing in 2017 after secretly grappling with concussions for years. He and Amy welcomed Isla in April 2018.

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