All passengers and both pilots thankfully made it out of the plane alive

By Ashley Boucher
July 17, 2020 08:48 PM
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and wife Amy
| Credit: David Becker/NASCAR/Getty

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife and daughter escaped a fiery plane crash last summer thanks to heroic efforts from one of the pilots and the retired NASCAR driver, new documents reportedly show.

Dale, his wife Amy, their baby daughter Isla Rose and their dog were aboard a plane that crashed at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, last August. Two pilots were also on board.

Everyone aboard the plane made it out alive — and new National Transportation Safety Board documents are reportedly giving some new insight into how everyone made it to safety.

According to the Associated Press, one of the two pilots of the Cessna Citation, kicked open one of the plane's cabin doors with the help of Dale so that the group could escape the flames of the crash.

Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA Today Network/Sipa USA

"As they were attempting to get the rear exit door open, heavy smoke was coming from the lavatory," the NTSB's report said, per the AP.

"Mr. Earnhardt reported that he told Mr. Melton to try the main cabin door. At this time fire was now visible in the lavatory. Earnhardt then handed his daughter, who was in his arms, to the pilot, and then they each squeezed out the opening."

The NTSB's initial report said that the plane rolled after a fast landing caused it to bounce twice on the runway. The plane ended up crashing through the "end threshold, through an open area of grass, down an embankment, through a chain-link fence, and up an embankment, coming to rest on the edge of Tennessee Highway 91," according to the NTSB.

The new documents released this week said that the pilots, Richard Pope and Jeffrey Melton, attempted to increase the plane's power, but it never came.

"Power was pulled to idle, and the thrust reversers were again applied as the airplane touched down for the third time," the NTSB's report said, according to the AP.

Dale's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted shortly after the crash last August that everyone was safe, but had been taken to the hospital for evaluation.

The NTSB has not released its final report on the crash. A rep for the retired NASCAR driver had no comment when reached by PEOPLE.