As expected, no criminal charges will be filed against NASCAR champion Tony Stewart in the death of fellow racer Kevin Ward Jr. that occurred on August 9 during a sprint car race. According to the New York Times,
The grand jury heard testimony this week on the accident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, where Stewart's racecar hit and killed Ward during a sprint car race. District attorney Michael Tantillo said more than two dozen witnesses testified, including two accident reconstruction specialists. The grand jury also reviewed a number of photographs and video recordings.
Stewart, the three-time Nascar champion and popular driver who races open-wheeled sprint cars as a hobby, traveled to the small, dirt-track oval for an event the night before a Cup race at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 10. During the sprint car race, Stewart's racecar appeared to bump or cut off Ward's racecar as the two drove into a turn. Ward's car hit the outside wall and spun, bringing out a yellow caution flag that slowed the field.
Ward, 20, from Port Leyden, N.Y., who had been rookie of the year in the Empire Super Sprint series earlier in his career, exited his racecar and walked onto the track to confront Stewart. As Stewart drove past, his car appeared to fishtail and hit Ward, throwing him several feet. Ward was declared dead at a hospital shortly after the accident.
Although Nascar was not associated with the sprint car race, its officials announced a rules change after the crash that requires drivers to remain in their racecars until safety workers arrive, unless they are at risk from fire or smoke.
It is not known yet if Stewart will face a civil suit in Ward's death.
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