Kevin Ward Jr.’s family has filed a wrongful death suit on August 7 against NASCAR champion Tony Stewart over the killing of the 20-year-old driver during a race at an upstate New York dirt track.
Kevin Ward, 20, died after he got out of his car in the middle of a road race in New York in August 2014 and was hit by Tony Stewart’s car.
The Ward family has accused Tony Stewart of acting with “reckless and malicious intent and negligence” and is suing for unspecified damages.
Tony Stewart was not criminally charged.
In a statement, Kevin Ward’s parents Kevin and Pamela said: “Our hope is that this lawsuit will hold Tony Stewart responsible for killing our son and show him there are real consequences when someone recklessly takes another person’s life.”
A court hearing in September 2014 heard that Kevin Ward was under the influence of marijuana on the night of the accident.
Kevin Ward had “enough to impair judgment”, according to Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo.
Tony Stewart, 43, a three-time NASCAR champion, had previously described the collision as “the toughest and most emotional experience” of his life.
They were racing alongside each other at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on August 9, when Kevin Ward’s car spun out of control.
He exited the vehicle and walked down the track, waving his arms at Tony Stewart in an apparent attempt to confront him.
The lawsuit claims Tony Stewart then revved his car’s engine, causing it to slide and strike the victim, throwing him into the air.
Kevin Ward’s father later told a local newspaper there was “no reason” for the death, given Tony Stewart’s experience and skills.
Police spent four weeks examining evidence in the case, including two videos, which they said “did not demonstrate aberrational driving by Tony Stewart”.
A New York grand jury declined to charge Tony Stewart on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges in the crash that killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on August 9, a grand jury in Ontario County (N.Y.) ruled Wednesday afternoon, following two days of hearings.
“This week an Ontario County grand jury has been meeting to hear testimony and review evidence gathered in the Tony Stewart matter, relating to the death of Kevin Ward at the Canandaigua Motor Speedway on August 9, 2014. The grand jury has completed its investigation,” said Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo.
“During the course of the grand jury presentation, approximately two dozen witnesses testified. These included a number of race car drivers, racetrack employees and volunteers, two accident reconstruction experts, medical personnel, and a number of police officers. In addition, the grand jury reviewed a number of photographs and video recordings, as well as other documentary evidence. After listening to and questioning all of the witnesses, and reviewing all of the evidence, the grand jury has determined that there is no basis to charge Tony Stewart with any crimes; his case was ‘No-Billed’ by the grand jury.”
Michael Tantillo also said marijuana was detected in Kevin Ward’s system during his autopsy. He said the levels were enough to “impair” Kevin Ward’s judgment.
Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges in the crash that killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park
Kevin Ward Jr. died in a crash during an Empire Super Sprints Series race at the half-mile upstate New York dirt track. Tony Stewart was inside of Kevin Ward when he drifted to the outside and Ward made contact with the wall.
Under caution, Kevin Ward got out of his car and walked toward Tony Stewart’s car, gesturing at the three-time NASCAR champion. As Tony Stewart’s car approached Kevin Ward, Stewart’s right-rear wheel hit Ward, who was thrown into the air and died as a result of the contact.
The Office of the Sheriff announced September 11 said the investigation was completed and the case was being forwarded to the District Attorney.
A statement issued by the Sheriff’s Office September 11 said: “The entire thorough investigation, including a forensic video enhancement recently received from the New York State Police Laboratory in Albany, has been submitted to the Office of the Ontario County District for review. The District Attorney’s Office, which has been meeting throughout the investigative process with members of the Sheriff’s Office, will make a statement late next week advising what action will be taken regarding the investigation.”
Then on September 16, the District Attorney said the case would be turned over to the grand jury.
Tony Stewart missed the first three Sprint Cup races after Kevin Ward’s death, returning at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29. At Atlanta, a visibly distraught Tony Stewart read from a prepared statement. He did not answer any questions.
“This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever has to experience in their life,” said Tony Stewart.
“With that being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friends are experiencing is something that I can’t possibly imagine.”
Tony Stewart thanked his friends, family and the NASCAR community for standing by him.
“I’ve taken the last couple weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and also to cope with the accident in my own way,” he said.
“It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted. I miss my team, my teammates, and I miss being back in the race car. I think getting back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.”
Kevin Ward’s father spoke publicly for the first time about the death of his son, and blamed Tony Stewart for striking and killing the 20-year-old sprint driver during a race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday night.
Kevin Ward Jr. and Tony Stewart had contact during an Empire Super Sprints Series race in the upstate New York half-mile dirt track. Afterward, Kevin Ward got out of his car, ran onto the track and angrily gestured at Tony Stewart. Seconds later, Tony Stewart’s right-rear tire struck Kevin Ward Jr. and threw him an estimated 20 to 30 feet, fatally injuring him.
Kevin Ward Sr. placed the blame for his son’s death on Tony Stewart, who has not spoken publicly since the accident.
“The reason he [Kevin Ward Jr.] probably got out of that car is who put him into the wall. He was definitely put into the wall,” Kevin Ward Sr. told Syracuse.com.
“Tony Stewart was the best damn driver by far on the track that night. Why he had to go up as high as he did and hog my son, there’s no reason for it.
Tony Stewart’s right-rear tire struck Kevin Ward Jr. and threw him an estimated 20 to 30 feet, fatally injuring him
“Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn’t see him,” Kevin Ward Sr. told the website, noting that several other drivers on track avoided his son.
” … The one person that knows what happened that night is possibly facing 10 years in prison. Is he going to say what he done?”
Sunday afternoon, Tony Stewart issued the following statement: “There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
The visitation for Kevin Ward Jr. was scheduled for August 13 from at Trainor Funeral Home in Boonville, N.Y.
The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. on August 14 at South Lewis High School.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said he expects the investigation of the accident and Ward’s death to take at least two more weeks.
The investigation into sprint car incident with Tony Stewart that killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. on August 9 will continue for several weeks, Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero has said.
“The investigation into the death of Kevin Ward, Jr., of Lewis County, N.Y., is ongoing and is expected to continue for at least another two weeks or more,” Phillip Povero said in his statement.
“Investigators continue to seek witnesses, gather evidence, and develop the racetrack crash reconstruction. However, it would be inappropriate to discuss details or findings of the investigation with the media at this time. I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation as the Ontario County Office of Sheriff continues this investigation and for having patience as we conduct a thorough review of all of the relevant facts involving this tragic accident.
The investigation into sprint car incident with Tony Stewart that killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. on August 9 will continue for several weeks
“When the investigation is completed, we will meet with members of the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office and discuss with them all aspects of the investigation into the crash that occurred on August 9, 2014 at the Canandaigua Speedway. At that time, more information relating to any determinations that have been made may be released. In closing, on behalf of the Ontario County Office of Sheriff, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family of Kevin Ward, Jr.”
After Saturday night’s incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, Tony Stewart decided to sit out the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International.
According to an update provided by Sheriff Povero, no evidence supports charges against Tony Stewart.
“As we speak, at this time, there are no facts that exist that support any criminal behavior or conduct or probable cause of a criminal act in this investigation,” he said.
Tony Stewart remains undecided on whether he will compete in this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
However, all of his “extra-curricular racing plans” have been canceled for the weekend and “won’t resume until further notice”.
Although the fatality occurred in a local-short track race and not a NASCAR event, a senior NASCAR official who spoke on background said the sanctioning body is studying the incident, as it does with accidents and events in other series and even other sports.
The official said that if NASCAR decides to make any changes as a result of the Stewart-Ward accident, they will not be announced until Friday, out of respect for Kevin Ward’s family. Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and evening, with the funeral Thursday.
Racing driver Kevin Ward Jr. has died after being struck by the car of three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart during a local sprint race in New York.
Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr., 20, had collided on the previous lap of the dirt track race on Saturday.
Kevin Ward climbed out of his car and was on the track confronting Tony Stewart when he was struck by his countryman’s car.
“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident,” said Tony Stewart, 43, in a statement.
“It’s a very emotional time for all involved. My thoughts and prayers are with Kevin’s family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Tony Stewart is the co-owner of NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing, having become driver-owner in 2008.
He cancelled plans to compete in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen.
Kevin Ward Jr. has died after being struck by the car of three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart
“We were talking through the night, and we gave Tony some time to sleep on it,” said team manager Greg Zipadelli.
“He feels strongly that this is the right thing to do. We at Stewart-Haas Racing strongly support it and agree with it.”
Tony Stewart, who frequently competes at local sprint car events, was questioned by police and released.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said Tony Stewart was “fully co-operative” and appeared “very upset”.
He added: “This is being investigated as an on-track crash and I don’t want to infer that there are criminal charges pending.
“When the investigation is completed, we will sit down with the district attorney and review it.
“But I want to make it very clear – there are no criminal charges pending at this time.”
Philip Povero asked people who have video of the crash to provide copies for investigators to review.
Stewart-Haas Racing said in a statement: “A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating.
“Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
“We’re still attempting to sort through all the details and we appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.”
The track, which hosted the local dirt-track event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, located 30 miles south-east of Rochester in upstate New York, cancelled the remainder of the race within five minutes of the incident.