On August 9, 2014, racecar driver, Tony Stewart, killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward after striking him with his sprint car at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Moments before the accident, Ward’s car crashed after being bumped by Stewart’s car. In anger, Ward got out of the wrecked sprint car and proceeded to walk onto the track while the race was still going on. After rounding a corner, Stewart’s car fishtailed, striking Ward and killing him.
The accident was captured on video and while it appears to have been a horrible mishap and nothing intentional, according to D.A. Michael Tantillo, the Ontario County District Attorney’s office is planning to take the case before a grand jury.
For several days, Stewart stayed out of the public eye and even voluntarily pulled himself from races. When he did surface, he offered a heartfelt apology to the family of Kevin Ward. Even so, Tantillo released a statement in which he says that he, along with members of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department have been investigating the case.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the complete file was forwarded to Tantillo, which reported by the NY State Police Laboratory included a professionally enhanced forensic video. After careful review, a determination was made to submit the evidence to an Ontario County grand jury sometime in the near future for review and ultimately, recommendation as to what, if any, action should be taken against Stewart.
In New York, proceedings of a grand jury are highly confidential and for that reason, Tantillo was unable to offer any information as to when the investigation file case would be turned over, just that it would be in the “near future”. In addition, he could not by law provide names of possible witnesses or what testimony the witnesses might give. Only after the case has been presented to the grand jury and a recommendation made will the public and media get the results.
Stewart also released a statement in which he said that he greatly respects both the time and effort the Ontario District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office have spent investigating this tragic accident and that he looks forward to the completed process. He adds that he will continue to provide officials his full cooperation, something he has done since the night of the accident.
According to Mike Arning, Director of Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing, Stewart will race this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Brett Jewkes, Chief Communications Officer with NASCAR said that he is aware the investigation is done and that everyone with the organization to include Stewart continues to offer thoughts to the family and others impacted by the accident.
He says the process will be monitored and that for NASCAR to provide any additional comments on the case would be inappropriate. For that reason, NASCAR will respect the legal process, as well as all authorities involved.