WASHINGTON, August 10, 2014 — Authorities investigating the death of Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua, New York, Motorsports Park last night say they found “no criminal intent” by driver Tony Stewart.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero gave a news conference today, saying that there was no evidence that Stewart had intentionally hit driver Kevin Ward Jr. during the sprint car race on Saturday night.
Povero had previously said Stewart was extremely upset and was “visibly shaken” after the accident.
During the event, caught on video, 20-year-old Ward was struck and killed by Stewart’s car. Ward had gotten out of the car and it appeared he attempted to engage or confront Stewart during the race.
Ward, who was driving the No. 13 car, hit a wall after his car made contact with Stewart’s car. Immediately afterward, Ward excited his car and onto the track, toward Stewart. Ward was on the right of Stewart’s car when the rear appeared to have struck Ward, who was thrown through the air and landed on his back.
The 25 lap race was under caution when the incident happened.
“This is a great tragedy, but there is no culpability here,” said one pit crew member who asked not to be identified in print, “Driving 101 says to stay in your car until they [emergency crews] come to get you. For some reason, Kevin wasn’t able to do that and it ended tragically.”
Stewart originally planned to race on Sunday, but subsequently changed his mind and sat out the event.
He issued an official statement saying, “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.”
In July 2013, Stewart took responsibility for making contact with another car and causing a 15-car accident which seriously injured a 19-year-old driver.