NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Cleared in Fatal Track Accident
(abcnews.go.com) – Nearly two months after Tony Stewart struck and killed a fellow driver, the district attorney’s office announced today that a grand jury investigation determined there was insufficient evidence to indict the NASCAR star.
The grand jury’s investigation began last week and its findings clearing Stewart were released today by the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office in Canandaigua, New York.
In a news conference, prosecutors said the grand jury considered manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges. He said several videos of the Aug. 9 incident were enhanced and analyzed and did not show any evidence of a crime.
Kevin Ward Jr., who had spun out while racing beside Stewart, died after he exited his car in what looked like an attempt to confront Stewart during a sprint car event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
Video of the incident shows Ward, 20 gesturing toward Stewart’s vehicle as he walked out of his own car and toward the center of the racetrack where Stewart’s car hit him.
District Attorney Michael Tantillo said there was also evidence Kevin Ward was under the influence of marijuana on the night of the race.
In a statement released this afternoon, Stewart said the past two months have been the “toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever.”
“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,” he said.
“While much of the attention has been on me, it’s important to remember a young man lost his life,” he said. “Kevin Ward Jr.’s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers.”
After the incident, Stewart, 43, took several weeks off from racing before making a return to the ORAL-B USA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Aug. 31.