Tony Stewart Avoids Criminal Charges in Kevin Ward Jr.’s Death

Tony Stewart Avoids Criminal Charges in Kevin Ward Jr.’s Death

Grand jury says NASCAR star is not responsible for death of rival driver.

Published September 24, 2014

Tony Stewart is clear of criminal charges in the death of Kevin Ward Jr., Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo announced Wednesday (Sept. 24). A grand jury in upstate New York did not find sufficient evidence to go forward with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges against Stewart, USA today reports.

Toxicology results found marijuana in Ward’s system at the time of the accident. He was high “enough to impair judgment,” Tantillo said.  

Stewart hit Wade during an August race. Seconds before the collision, the 20-year-old driver spins out then jumps from his car to confront the NASCAR vet, just as Stewart's car speeds back around the track. The jury determined that Stewart did not hit Ward intentionally. 

An expert who interviewed Stewart after the accident determined that he was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, although a toxicology test was never performed.

Two videos of the collision were submitted as evidence. According to Tantillo, the recordings were viewed at varying speeds and “did not demonstrate any aberrational driving by Tony Stewart until the point of impact with Kevin Ward.” In addition to the footage, the jury heard testimony from several witnesses to reach the decision.

Ward’s family isn’t satisfied with the resolution. “All the other vehicles were reducing speed and not accelerating, except for Tony Stewart, who intentionally tried to intimidate Kevin by accelerating and sliding his car toward him, causing the tragedy,” Ward’s mother said. 

The family may bring a civil suit against Stewart.  

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(Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Written by Latifah Muhammad

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