A grand jury decided yesterday that NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. Stewart struck and killed Ward during an August 9th short track race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
Manslaughter in the second degree and criminally negligent homicide were the two charges originally proposed to the grand jury.
According to the jury’s statement, videos of the accident “did not demonstrate any aberrational driving by Tony Stewart” until the moment of impact. Accordingly, they reason, it doesn’t appear that Stewart was trying to hit Ward.
Ward’s family released a statement in response to the ruling, and say they will look to pursue other forms of legal action against Stewart.
“Our son got out of his car during caution when the race was suspended,” the statement reads. “All the other vehicles were reducing speed and not accelerating except for Stewart, who intentionally tried to intimidate Kevin by accelerating and sliding his car toward him, causing the tragedy. The focus should be on the actions of Mr. Stewart. This matter is not at rest and we will pursue all remedies in fairness to Kevin.”
Stewart published a statement following the ruling as well. He called the last month and a half the “toughest and most emotional” time in his life. Here it is:
“This has been the toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever. I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received and continue to receive. I respect everything the District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office did to thoroughly investigate this tragic accident.
“While the process was long and emotionally difficult, it allowed for all the facts of the accident to be identified and known. While much of the attention has been on me, it’s important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr.’s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers.”
For what it’s worth, the toxicology report revealed Kevin Ward Jr. was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident.